The paper critically examines the impact of textese on literacy development. This follows the existence of adverse associations surrounding the use of abbreviations, and text speak are arguably detrimental to the literacy skills and capacities. The digital era that encourages the use of mobile phone text messaging is characterized by a predictive and short wording approach different from the normal standards of written language. For example, the writing of U R Gr8 (You are great), 4ever (forever), 4go10 (forgotten), BTW (by the way, FYI (for your information), et cetera et cetera. Digital texting has profoundly transformed and shifted from traditional text messaging methods that utilize standard written language rules. The diversification and different approaches attract the criticism of causing the illiteracy levels towards the children reading and cognitive functionalities. However, existing literature shows that nothing could be further from the truth. The analysis of the paper indicates that the is a positive correlation between the children’s grammar performance and the text messaging approaches, be it the use of textese. Thus, the conclusive argument informs that the use of textese is associated with proficient accuracy and reading speed.
Definition of Text-ese
van Dijk et al. (1) defines textese as the use of a “register that allows the omission of words and the use of textisms. The practice of textese is characterized by breaking from traditional standards of written language to non-standards shortening and omission of letters in a world. For example, gr8ful (grateful), k (okay), mgt (management), among others. The vast use of textese has been prevalent and common among teenagers attracting massive need for study on the impacts of the practice on language proficiency and abilities. The paper finds this fundamental to understand the effects textese have on literacy development, ascertaining the safety of children to develop the necessary grammar and functional skills. The rapid shift from the traditional text messaging practices is characterized by textese, predictive texting on mobile applications, and multi-press features. Thus, it contributes to the significance of how children practice the art of short messages in the digital context.
Mobile Phone Tasks and Literacy Skills
The advancement of mobile phone texting and the use of SMS (short messaging service) has baffled scholars and professionals in the children’s literary development field. This prompts a need for an extensive study to assess the impacts of the new messaging trends on the grammar and literacy capacity that children develop over time. The impact of the use of SMS and textese format is critical to the practice of language use and spelling skills. According to Kemp and Bushnell (18), the “claims that the use of popular text-messaging abbreviations widely known as the textese spelling approach is associated with poor literacy skills” – is baseless and not factual. In a study comprising of 86 children ages 10 to 12 participated in several activities, including reading and writing text messages in both the use of the textese and conventional method. Despite the high use of textese, the children showed a faster capacity to write in conventional methods. The writing skills and competence are not eroded by the use of textese. In fact, the children showed a high capacity to read and write conventional texting as compared to the textese.
The implications of the experiment are based on the fact that children develop “better literacy skills based on greater textese reading speed and accuracy (Kemp and Bushnell, 18). The argument is reiterated by van Dijk et al. (1) based on the studies that indicate “text-ese has a positive effect on children’s literacy abilities.” The textism approach profoundly impacts on the children’s better capacity to accomplish grammar tasks and increase the performance level. The use of textese directly correlates with the positive impacts experienced with the children’s grammar performance capabilities Kemp and Bushnell, 19; van Dijk et al., 2). Drouin and Davis (46) study indicate that there is no correlation of text speak and the low literacy performance witnessed among the teenagers. The use of textese has been fundamental to provoke critical thinking and assessment capacity to code and decoding of the messages to comprehend the exact message identified in the text. Thus, it creates positive impacts on the children’s literacy development, contrary to what has been mostly thought to be the cause of low literacy among teenagers in contemporary society.
Impacts on Grammar Reading Speed and Accuracy
van Dijk et al. (3), analyzing the impacts of textese on literacy, evaluates the capacity to grammar reading speed and accuracy. While textese practices have been associated with positive impacts on literacy development, studies have found a negative correlation between the frequency of the use of textese and the context of spelling. The increased use of textese has the potential to be transferred into the spelling of words in the official capacity. The verbal and non-verbal reasoning abilities are bound to be negatively affected by the use of textese as the main form of text messaging. This is caused by the high number of hours and time spent using textese as compared to traditional practices. Zebroff and Kaufman (2197) note that a high amount of time spent on digital practices by young people has led to a rapid increase in the use of textese. The deep traditional sense of reading, speaking, and writing grammar has been eroded with digital transformations. Zebroff and Kaufman (2197) assert that “reading in the traditional sense has exhibited more positive links with the literacy capacity development than all the other practices.”
The traditional reading, writing, and speaking practices provide more understanding and cognition capacity for literacy development. Kemp and Bushnell (18) indicate that in the experiment, “children took significantly longer and made more errors when reading messages written in textese than in conventional English.” This indicates that the conventional (traditional) language reading, speaking, and writing practices remain superior in literacy skills development. This is fundamental to maintain the profound impacts conventional practices have on literacy skills compared to modern practices. However, this does not imply that modern approaches exhibit negative implications. Instead, they maintain a degree of positive effects on the development of literacy capacity as young people engage more often. Thus, the use of textese has a positive impact on the development of literacy skills, competence, and abilities.
Zebroff and Kaufman (2197) negate the use of technological solutions as essential in developing literacy skills among children. In their perspective, the authors indicate that it is “more prudent to increase the quantity and complexity level of traditional forms of reading in adolescence to enhance the functional literacy in the society.” This is informed on the fact that – there is no direct relationship on the use of textese to the functional development of the children. The traditional approaches have been integral in building capacity and functional skills vital for further literacy skills development. Thus, the use of traditional approaches provides better promise for the improvement of both the children’s literacy capacities and functional capabilities.
Plester et al. (37) emphasize on the significance of understanding the correlation between the “text language and the traditional literacy skills.” High proficiency levels are indicated in the use of traditional literacy skills in languages than in the use of text language. The text language has advanced as a contemporary practice that attracts children to commit more time than traditional language practices. The use of traditional languages has significantly been suppressed due to the high amounts of time spent on electronic devices than on conventional approaches (Zebroff and Kaufman, 2198). The conventional approaches are more engaging. Hence, induce profound impacts on skills and competence development. Thus, it is found to be better than the use of digital approaches for literacy skills and competence development.
In conclusion, the studies indicate a positive relationship between the use of textese and literacy skills development. The studies conducted by different scholars and authors dispute the broader notion associating the use of textese to the erosion and downgrading of the literacy skills with the use of textese. All studies find no direct impacts leading to the negative context of literacy development. On the contrary, the use of textese is thought-provoking with children maintaining the capacity to read fast and accurately. The reading of conventional languages is much more comfortable and efficient that reading and writing of textese. Therefore, there are profound positive effects on the literacy skills and competence development.
The main challenge with the use of textese that could affect the nature and form of literacy skills development is related to the amount of time spent practicing. The digital platforms have increased the number of times children spend texting, using the textese, and predictive messaging approaches as compared to traditional or conventional language. The time for conventional or traditional language has vastly been shortened as a result of the use of digital platforms. This minimizes the time spent searching for words in the conventional means, indicating a likelihood of effecting literacy skills development. The evaluation of the aspect of time remains to be mostly unexploited to uncover the impacts of time spend in respective reading, writing, and speaking approaches impact the literacy skills and competence development. This entails a high preference topic to go beyond the aspect of using one form (digital or traditional) of reading, writing, and speaking approaches. Hence, the understanding of how time spent in various methods impacts to a better understanding of the factors that influence literacy skills, capabilities, and competence development on a generation that has extensively been affected by digital transformations.
Drouin, Michelle, and Claire Davis. “R u txting? Is the use of text speak hurting your literacy?.” Journal of Literacy Research 41.1 (2009): 46-67.
Kemp, Nenagh, and Catherine Bushnell. “Children’s text messaging: Abbreviations, input methods, and links with literacy.” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 27.1 (2011): 18-27.
Plester, Beverly, et al. “Finnish and UK English pre‐teen children’s text message language and its relationship with their literacy skills.” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 27.1 (2011): 37-48.
Van Dijk, Chantal N., et al. “The influence of texting language on grammar and executive functions in primary school children.” PloS one 11.3 (2016).
Zebroff, Dmitri, and David Kaufman. “Texting, reading, and other daily habits associated with adolescents’ literacy levels.” Education and Information Technologies 22.5 (2017): 2197-2216.