duz yr child txt?? Children’s use of texting language and their literacy skills
Kemp, NM, duz yr child txt?? Children's use of texting language and their literacy skills, Reading and Spelling: Development, Disorders, and Remediation Conference, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, April 2015, Sydney (2015) [Keynote Presentation]
Texting, email, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat… more and more of our communication today is digital, and young people are some of the most eager participants. When writing digital messages, children often ignore conventions about using capitals and punctuation (hi its me), use abbreviated spellings (thnx) and add emoticons ( ), symbols (xxx) and excessive punctuation marks (??!!!). This type of writing style is sometimes called "textese". Parents and educators are often concerned that using and seeing textese might have a negative effect on young people’s standard literacy skills. However, the research evidence shows quite the opposite. In fact, children with stronger reading and writing skills are the ones who are better at inventing new ways of writing their digital messages, and at understanding their friends’ abbreviated writing style. Further, most children, when asked, understand the difference between the writing styles appropriate for digital messages and for school work. I will describe a series of research studies carried out in Australia and the UK that clearly show that exposure to textese does not "ruin" children’s conventional literacy skills, and may even help to improve them. However, this is a fast-changing area. Until recently, most children had consolidated their reading and writing ability before they began reading and writing textese. The children of today might be exposed to digital and standard language styles almost from the start. It’s therefore essential to continue to study the rapidly evolving nature of children’s digital communication and how this relates to their literacy skills.