Students’ Writing Assignments “Dumber”?

Social media makes our messages condensed. Twitter allows up to 140 characters; Facebook allows up to 420 characters.  Many would think this would create clearer messages.  Wrong.  Welcome to the world of grammatical, usage, and spelling errors.  Slang terms such as BTW (by the way) have suddenly become incorporated into student assignments- a major concern for teachers.

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life survey, 85% of respondents use some form of electronic communication.  While much of the younger generation has become accustomed to the social media slang, the teachers cannot understand what the students are writing.  Teachers understand that text messaging is a large part of young people’s lives; however, this should not excuse the formal writing students are assigned. Many teachers believe there has been a decline in students’ writing abilities due to new media.

Even though teens are heavily embedded in the digital age, most do not believe that communication over the Internet or text messaging is writing.  Teens generally do not believe that social media negatively affects their writing.  However, many do acknowledge that some of the slang does occasionally slip into their assignments for school.  In particular, teen bloggers and social network users have a tendency to use shortcuts and emoticons in their school writing assignments.

Parents have a different view about the effect of social media on students’ writing.  They believe that computers have a positive influence on writing and even make some students better writers.  Reasons a computer makes a positive influence include revising and editing easily, presenting ideas clearly, and the opportunity for creativity. Other parents do not believe that social media has any effect on writing.

Some feel that this is simply an evolution of language while others feel that the social media “is dumbing down” the English language.  The future is unclear as more generations of students grow up in the age of social media.

Have you ever used a shortcut like LOL (laughing out loud) or an emoticon in a school assignment?

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