Over dependence on technology might be making us less intelligent.
jsyk, irl kdz twtg + iming buds cr8ting probs @ skool!
Translation: Just so you know, in real life, kids tweeting and instant messaging their friends is creating problems at school!
If you needed to read the translation to get the meaning of that first line, you’re not alone. In fact, many educators are worried to see that the slang and acronyms which are the hallmarks of texting and instant messaging have begun to creep into the academic setting. They believe that students’ habitual use of shorthand is affecting their ability to write grammatically correct sentences – a skill they need not only to write term papers but one that will serve them their entire life.
“They do not capitalize words or use punctuation anymore,” says Terry Wood, a teacher with 10 years of in-class experience. “Even in emails to teachers or [on] writing assignments, any word longer than one syllable is now abbreviated to one.”1
The severity of the educational repercussions of texting is hotly debated among the experts, some arguing that the English language is being “dumbed down” to the point where youngsters can’t write coherently anymore. Others claim that “textspeak” is actually increasing kids’ ability to interact in written form and that it’s simply an evolution of the language. Many kids themselves (64%) admit to incorporating some informal styles from their text-based communications into their writing at school. But they also don’t consider these electronic texts as “writing”.2
Whatever side of the fence you’re on, an important question remains: do the youngsters understand that this type of communication is not necessarily appropriate outside their circle of friends and family? The answer is: not so much...
“[Texting] is becoming such a problem that teachers must explain why using the shortcut language is not acceptable in the business world,” writes Kelley Loftis from Tech&Learning, a website devoted to learning through technology.3 Chad Dion Lassiter, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, cites one example of how textspeak is tangibly hurting students’ career opportunities: “Admissions officers have shared with me that a lot of the essays they’re encountering now are deeply rooted in this technological culture of cut-off sentences where you’re writing like you speak. After the first few sentences, college admissions professionals toss them to the side.”1
Reports like this suggest that the younger generation is not as smart as it used to be when it comes to basic decorum for important life skills such as applying to college or for a job. Until recently, it would have been difficult to imagine anyone sending a prospective employer a cover letter that wasn’t written with a formality that both reflected the candidate’s seriousness of intent and showcased their professional aptitudes.
As pointed out by a website that teaches people to write good letters, “When writing a formal letter, often you are addressing a person or organization with whom you are not familiar and the quality of your content, including spelling and grammar will be strongly scrutinized.”4 Indeed, in a professional context, the “laziness of language” exhibited in texting could be considered, at best, as a level of familiarity that might not be appreciated by a recruiter. At worst, it could be viewed as reflection of a lax attitude in other areas – also something you don’t want to put forward when you’re asking for a job.
So, how can paper help with this distinctly modern conundrum? Paper is a classic, commanding its own form of respect and inherently conveying formality. To print out correspondence like a resumé or college entrance essay subtly imparts the message that a candidate has taken the time to consider their application and that they are serious about achieving their aspirations. Putting a document down on paper, sealing it in an envelope and addressing it to a key contact also demonstrates an ability to properly adapt forms of communication to the right setting so you get the optimal result.
And that’s just smart.
1 Lytle, Ryan. How Slang Affects Students in the Classroom: Are Social Media and Text Messaging Negatively Impacting High School Students? US News. June 13, 2011
2 Lenhart, Amanda, Arafeh, Sousan, Smith, Aaron and Macgill, Alexandra. Report: Education, Teens, Email, New Media Ecology Writing, Technology and Teens, April 24, 2008
3 Loftis, Kelley. Texting and instant messaging. The Pros and Cons of Texting and IM, www.techlearning.com
4 Formal Letters, Good Letter Writing, www.goodletterwriting.com.uk