A study of 88 British kids, aged between 10 and 12, has discovered that those who regularly text have better reading skills despite the use of txt abbreviations.
The increasing use of abbreviations, phonetic spellings and the dropping of vowels is a constant source of irritation to the Daily Mail-reading crowd, who happily quote anecdotal evidence of declining standards. This promoted researchers at Coventry University to take a more scientific approach, and their findings seem to suggest that texting aids literacy rather than damaging it.
The study, published by the British Psychological Society, got 88 children to compose text messages in response to a range of scenarios, then compared the frequency with each child used textisms with tests of their "reading, vocabulary, and phonological awareness". The results indicated that the increased exposure to print, in any form, led to greater literacy with those using most text'isms being more literate.
Of course, an alternative explanation would be that the quite bright kids use lots of text abbreviations, and tend to read more, while the more educationally-challenged stick to easy words they know.
Regardless of whether this is cause or effect, the study does suggest that we shouldn't be concerned about kids using linguistic shortcuts when texting, so it's back to concentrating on the long-term damage to their thumbs instead. ®