The impact of technology is undoubtedly becoming a large part of American culture and the world. From smartphones, to home theatre systems, to the increasing use of tablets, technology is no longer a luxury but a necessity. For better or worse individuals need to know, with some degree of proficiency, how technology works in order to achieve the expectations in today’s modern-day work force.
Today, educators struggle to re-examine how to use digital technology in the classroom. The balance between our children’s’ ability to use technology and the educational system to measure academic standards are a constant challenge. Recent debate about “texting” is a clear example of how technology, negative or positive, is effecting the development of young minds. Language Arts teachers are noticing more writing mistakes than ever before. The shorthand used in texting, called ”chat-speak,” incorporates numbers, symbols, and incorrect grammar. For example ”you” is spelled “u”. When used frequently, the standards between formal and informal literacy become blurred.
Critics argue that texting negatively influences an ability to develop critical thinking skills, while proponents claim that although texting isn’t a perfect means for communicating, it does prompt young people to write more. Statistically, both sides agree that teens are texting more. On average, according to phone bills, teens send and receive about 1800 text messages per month. Studies suggest that for young people whose knowledge of language is still developing, those who text more have trouble differentiating between Standard English and the informal writing style used while texting.
According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project and the National Commission on Writing, 64% of teens who answered a phone survey admitted using shortcut texting for school assignments. Some argue texting is no different from the introduction of calculators used in the 1960’s. Back then hand-held calculators received criticism as an obstruction to the traditional methods used to teach math. But the generation introduced to calculators also became the same generation to advance today’s digital age. Others argue the influence technologies had on previous generations as opposed to the current texting generation is “how” the technology is used. For example, the calculator introduced in the 1960’s was viewed as a tool, while texting, including other digital technologies, is perceived as a toy.
Many other factors enter the debate. But the constant challenge for educators, parents and students is to discover productive means for texting and the overall use of technology. Perhaps then technology can be used as both an educational toy and a tool . . . ne14*$? . . . L8r . . . translation for non-texters . . . anyone for Starbucks? . . . Later.
- Bivens-Tatum, Wayne. “The Dumbest Generation?”. Academic Librarian. September 9, 2008.
- Dean K. Tomita. “Text Messaging and Implications for its use in Education.” University of Hawaii at Manoa. 2009.
- O’Connor, Amanda. “Instant Messaging: Friend or Foe of Student Writing?”. March 2005.
- Vosloo, Steve. “The effects of texting on literacy: Modern scourge or opportunity?”. Shuttleworth Foundation. April 2009.