Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Texting: an update on its effects

We raised the effects of truncated communication in our April 29th post The language of though: how will it evolve?

Here's some encouraging and some not so good news.

Let's start with the good. Findings from a study of Tweens 10-12 years old in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology (Vol. 27, Number 1) seem to suggest that texting aids literacy rather than damaging it. 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.

Now the not so good news.

The rise in texting might be causing a shift in the way adolescents develop. According to Sherry Turkle at the Initiative on Technology and Self at MIT "Among the jobs of adolescence are to separate from your parents, and to find the peace and quiet to become the person you decide you want to be. Texting hits directly at both those jobs.”

American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in Q4 2008, according to the Nielsen Company — almost 80 messages a day, more than double the average of a year earlier.

Michael Hausauer, a psychotherapist in Oakland, Calif., said teenagers had a “terrific interest in knowing what’s going on in the lives of their peers, coupled with a terrific anxiety about being out of the loop.” For that reason, he said, the rapid rise in texting has potential for great benefit and great harm. Read the full NYT here: Texting may be taking its Toll

Although the developments are too recent to have conclusive data on health effects, we'll certainly be watching this space with interest.