Blogs, Texts and IM Boost Child Literacy

By December 04, 2009

In direct contradiction to worries that "text-speak" will forever mar the writing patterns of children, a recent National Literacy Trust study found that kids that use the Web are more literate than those that do not. The casual writing style might even help future writers. The survey of around three thousand children who text, blog, and use other aspects of the Social Web focused on those between the ages of nine and sixteen. Of respondents, 24 percent maintain a personal blog, 73 percent use IM chat clients, and 82 percent text regularly.

These kids - tweens and young teens - not only use written language more frequently and fluently than those that do not use these tools, they also show more confidence in assessing their own skills. Of non-connected kids, 47 percent said their writing skills were good. Of blog/text/chat-users, 61 percent said their writing was "good or very good."

This difference seems intuitive to a generation that spent time on an even more text-based Internet, one of bulletin boards and forums. According to ReadWriteWeb on Thursday, "This hardly comes as a surprise to us tech geeks who spent our younger days alternating between writing critical theses on esoteric forums and getting assaulted by grammar Nazis on said forums."

Despite more time spent in constructing casual conversation - the aforementioned "text-speak" with its LOL's and gr82CU's, Jonathan Douglas of the National Literacy Trust believes that more time spent around language in any form is still a learning experience. "Does it damage literacy? Our research results are conclusive - the more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills," he said to BBC News.

Different writing styles have always been something young children need to learn - Douglas cites the parallel with choosing an appropriate closing of a letter. "Sincerely," "Yours," and "Love" all have their appropriate place, just as "ROFLMAO" does.

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