Turns out, texting actually improves spelling and grammar

Texting gets a bad rap. It might seem like a quick and easy way to contact friends without having to actually (ick) speak to someone, but according to some sources, it can ruin your relationship, make you racist, and even shorten your life. And of course, for years the use of abbreviations and emoji has been seen by some people as a harbinger of the apocalypse.

But it turns out that texting isn’t making young people stupid after all. It may even be making them better at English. That’s according to a new study from Coventry University and the University of Tasmania, published this week in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

Researchers compared the spelling and grammar in formal tests and text messages for 160 children aged eight to 16 in the West Midlands on two occasions, 12 months apart. They found that not only did creative use of language not stop young people from grasping the rules of English, but it was actually associated with better spelling ability and use of grammar. (Brb, FEELS.)

This was obviously a small scale study but as the paper makes clear, it backs up previous research that slang use doesn’t correlate with stupidity and suggests that fears about technology rotting young people’s brains are unfounded. “Texting can offer children the chance to practise their understanding of how sounds and print relate to each other,” Clare Wood, a professor of psychology in education at Coventry University told the BBC. But she urged that schools should continue to teach traditional grammar and spelling all the same, so there’s srsly no need to panic.

Image via Tom Bream’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley

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