Teens, texting, communication and literacy

Teens text. A lot. At younger and younger ages. I am sure many of us have witnessed teens texting side by side, ignoring each other even when in the same room. So, what does the research say about how teens communicate?   Below are some recent findings:

  • The mobile phone is how American teens communicate, with more growth in this area than in any other way of communicating: from 2006 to 2009 texting went from 51% to 72% while face to face communication only rose 2% (Pew, 2010)
  • 83% use their phones to take pictures (Project Tomorrow, 2011)
  • Shocker – 21% of children k-2 have access to cell phones!  they can barely read and write at those ages, are they typing texts with their thumbs?! (Project Tomorrow, 2011)
  • SES does not seem to matter, both title 1 and title 2 schools report the same level of ownership of cell phones.  The digital divide is no longer a chasm. (Project Tomorrow, 2011)
  • Rosen and his colleagues(2010)  found that texting is positively correlated to informal writing BUT negatively correlated to formal writing for college students.
  • Plester and colleagues (2008) found that texting does not seem to be associated with negative literacy outcomes for children of 11-12.
  • In another study, Plester and collegues (2009) found a correlation between children 10-12 who used “textisms” (words that are abbreviated in texts) and reading ability and it was POSITIVE.



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