Cutting-Edge Leadership

The best in current leadership research and theory, from cultivating charisma to transforming your organization

Has Texting and Email Ruined Students’ Writing Skills?

What effect does texting have on your kids?

Teachers and parents alike have voiced concern over whether texting, with its abbreviations, short-cuts, and odd grammar, hurts kids' writing skills. There has been little definitive research on the topic, although surveys of teens suggest that the majority consider text language and written English to be separate forms of communication.

Linguists are divided, with some seeing deterioration in writing skills that they attribute to text and email, and others believing that text messaging constitutes a different form of language. Schools in Australia are actually teaching students about text messaging and comparing its form and structure to written English. Treating texting as a different sort of language, then there can be academic (and practical) benefits to actually studying it: students can learn more about syntax and grammar (and improve their texting at the same time).

Since texting, email, and whatever the next form of electronic communication will be, are not going away, it makes sense to study it, and perhaps teach it (or at least teach about it) in schools.

As an organizational psychologist who studies nonverbal communication, there was concern as email became more commonplace in work settings that the loss of face-to-face communication and phone conversations, with their rich nonverbal cues, would lead to communication breakdowns. Although there are indeed problems with email communication, savvy users take care to make meaning clear, and the use of "emoticons" (the smiley faces) has helped to put in some of the lost emotional cues. Email is not going away, so it makes sense to study how to use it more effectively.

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A variety of resources are available to help with email etiquette:


http://www.emailreplies.com/

http://www.101emailetiquettetips.com/

and text etiquette:

http://www.textetiquette.com/

http://www.wirelessdevnet.com/newswire-less/thefeature04.html

 

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College.

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