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Oh gr8: Texting too much may destroy reading, language ability

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Too much texting may be destroying reading and language skills.

Researchers say people who text frequently have a decreased ability to recognize new words. Conversely people who read magazines, books and newspapers learn new words better.

The study was conducted by Joan Lee who did the experiment as part of her master’s thesis at Calgary University to see what effect frequent texting had on language ability and reading skills

Lee said in a media release, "Our assumption about text messaging is that it encourages unconstrained language. But the study found this to be a myth.

For this study the researchers presented the students with real and fictitious words.

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The participants who accepted more words did so because they were better able to interpret the meaning of the word, or tolerate the word, even if they didn't recognize it.. Students who reported texting more rejected more words instead of acknowledging them as possible words."

Lee says texting too much instead of reading print media limits a person’s exposure to the language variety because of the colloquial and unusual spellings used when texting.

"This was surprising because there are many unusual spellings or "textisms" such as "LOL" in text messaging language”, Lee said. In the study, texters were more likely to reject words because they read less and text more.

The study suggests frequent texting can interfere with reading skills from the ability to recognize words. Texting too much could have a negative effect on language ability.

Lee, Joan Hwechong, M.A
University of Calgary
“What does txting do 2 language? The influences of exposure to messaging and print media on acceptability constraints”
February, 2012

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