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Effect of Texting on Teens Essay

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Cell phones are becoming a modern day necessity, to the point that they are a must have for every teenager and adult. Human beings are growing increasingly attached to these devices, depending on them more and more for their communication with other people, job duties, and other daily activities that they must accomplish.

One way that we are taking advantage of cell phone technology at a rapidly growing rate is through the use of text messaging. It seems that anywhere you are likely to see people glued to phones screen, fingers typing away. In schools, malls, and cars we see them. On sidewalks, streets, and in crosswalks we see them, heads down typing away. Sometimes we may be one of those people with our fingers glued to our phones keyboard or touchscreen. Does this really affect our day to day activities? This research paper, against contrary belief, concludes that texting does not affect teenagers adversely.

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Many people believe that texting affects teenagers in many ways. On the contrary, teenagers believe that they can keep a balance between texting and social interaction. They know when to use text language and when to use regular English (Edutopia). Noting that there are some negative aspects of texting, such as- phone addiction, social awkwardness e.t.c. It has many positive aspects to it also. Many would argue that texting has dampened their children’s ability to interact on a face-to-face level with their peers, but others would argue against that, and say that it allows people more freedom to contact those that they do not see regularly.

Many teenagers have cell phones now and that is seen as a blessing and curse by both parents and children. Often, a child will get a cell phone as a means to communicate more easily with their guardians, which gives them some measure of freedom that they hadn’t had before. Teens appreciate that freedom and they also feel a sense of being connected to their parents, since they can be contacted at any time. Parents are thankful that they have that connection. When parents feel that their children are using their phone too much, they may put restrictions on the usage of phones. This keeps, both the parents and the children happy.

With the uprising of technology many are concerned about the social ramifications that texting holds, particularly on younger generations. Between teenagers and their friends “cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication” (Lenhart) and it’s becoming commonplace for children at younger and younger ages to communicate with their friends via text messaging as opposed to phone conversations or even face-to-face. A majority of modern teenagers, defined by the Pew Research Center as ages 12-17, will text their friends at least once a day. A smaller percentage call theirs friends daily and an even smaller number talk to friends face-to-face. Though texting might take some kids away from social interactions, it also opens the door for many other children to communicate with their peers through a way that makes them feel safer. Texting can be a good alternative for children that suffer from:

* Social anxiety
* Loneliness
* Shyness
As texting does not looking at the person you are talking to, directly, it boosts confidence of children and helps them to become socially active. “I think it’s possible to say that the electronic media is helping kids to be in touch much more and for longer. It is also helping lonely children to make more friends and making children feel socially involved” (Hilary Stout)

After discussing several points raised above, one major question arises, does texting have any negative effect on literacy of teens? The answer to this question is very debatable, but using two studies, this research paper will prove that texting does not have any negative effect on literacy of teens.

The first study, “The effect of text messaging on 9- and 10-year-old children’s reading, spelling and phonological processing skills” proves that there is no significant evidence that texting was good or bad when the researchers compared the two groups that were tested. However, it did find that by using texting, children improved their spelling skills when compared to other children in the intervention group. It also found that the number of messages sent and received was positively correlated to lexical retrieval skill. (Wood, C)

The second study, “Txt lang: Texting, textism use and literacy ability in adolescents with and without specific language impairment” Forty-seven typically developed (TD) and 47 adolescents with specific language impairment (SLI), all age 17, were used in the study. The adolescents with SLI had developmental problem in understanding and expressing language that were not related to other developmental disorders, such as mental retardation. The study was conducted by K. Durkin, A.J. Walker, and ContiRamsdent from the School of Psychological Sciences and Health. All adolescent completed tests that included the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence to test for their IO. To test their language ability the CELF-4 was used. Reading was assessed by the Test of Reading Efficiency test.

And lastly, to test their reading and spelling abilities, the sub-tests of the Wide Range Achievement Test were used. Evaluation of texting frequency was done by asking how often the participants texted per week and marked on a five–point scale. The participants were also sent a text message asking them what they usually do on Saturdays. After receiving their response, it was coded for structural characteristics, such as number of messages. The study found that the adolescents sent fewer text messages than their typically developed peers. They also responded in lesser amounts. Sixty-eight of the SLI adolescents compared to 87% of the TD adolescents responded. The adolescents with SLI that responded scored higher in reading than the non-senders. The study also found that the senders and non-senders in the TD group were similar in language and literacy.(Durkin, K)

Majority of people thought that text messaging would have a negative impact on students writing and literacy, however, the studies analyzed show a different story.If taken as a whole, these studies seem to indicate the opposite of the concern that text messaging is bad for literacy. Both the studies found a positive relationship between reading and spelling.

The first study found that those who used texting had better spelling skills, and the number of text messages sent and received was related to the ability to retrieve words from memory. The second study found that those with specific language impairment sent less text messages. This suggests that in order to get into texting, you have to have better reading skills. In the end, these studies don’t support the concerns that texting is harmful to literacy.

After scrutinizing the positive and the negative aspects of texting, It is very clear that the positives weigh more than the negatives. texting may not always make teens socially awkward, but can help any children to be socially more active and confident. If the amount of phone usage of children can be regulated to an extent where both the parents and the children are happy, it can be very helpful for the both of them. children can always stay connected with the parents and parents can know the whereabouts of their children.

Texting is also very important as it does not disturb a person as much as a phone call would. Teens have to socialize, and phone calls are much more distracting than sending text messages, both for the children and the people around the children. “Teens tell us how texting is more efficient, how they don’t have to go through the preamble and niceties of a phone conversation.”(Lenhart)

It is a very clear from the above discussion, that if texting can be regulated, it helps a lot. children do not feel unsafe while travelling alone as they can text their parents anytime, they do not get disturbed by phone calls, they can contact people they do not see regularly, texting also helps improve spellings, e.t.c.

Against popular belief, texting does not harm teens adversely, rather, it helps teens in many ways mentioned above. So, if done in a regulated manner, texting is not bad for teens.


Internet sites:
Hafner, Katie. “Texting may be taking a toll.” The New York Times, May 26, 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/26/health/26teen.html?_r=0 Lambert, Victoria. “Docs’ fear for text mad teens.” The SUN, November 30, 2010 http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/parenting/3251846/Studies-look-into-risks-and-effects-of-texting-for-children-and-teenagers.html “Teens, Cell phones and Texting.” pewresearch.org, Pew Research Centre, April 20, 2010 http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1572/teens-cell-phones-text-messages Elyse,Toribio. “Textings effect on grammar.” NorthJersey.com, August 13, 2012 http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/tech_news/165943756_Texting_s_effect_on_grammar_is_debated.html “How has texting affected the social life of teens.” Livestrong.com, Livestrong, September 1, 2011 http://www.livestrong.com/article/532976-how-has-texting-affected-the-social-lives-of-teens/ Stout, Hilary. “Antisocial Networking?” The New York Times 30 Apr. 2010: ST1. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.

<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/fashion/02BEST.html?>. Does text messaging harm students’ writing skills, No publisher, edutopia.org http://www.edutopia.org/poll-text-messaging-writing-skills

Lenhart, Amanda. “Teens, Cell Phones, and Texting.” Pew Research Center Publications. Pew Research Center, 20 Apr. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2012.

Studies/ Researches:
Wood, C., et al. “ The effect of text messaging on 9- and 10-year-old children’s reading, spelling and phonological processing skills.” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (Feb. 2011): n. pag. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Feb. 2012. Durkin, K., G. Conti-Ramsdent, and A.J. Walker. “ Txt lang: Texting, textism use and literacy abilities in adolescents with and without specific language impairment.” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (Feb. 2011): n. pag. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Feb. 2011

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