Teachers see effects of texting on students

Posted November 18, 2011

— Students of all ages often communicate through texting and social media. Some educators say those abbreviated thought bursts, void of punctuation or capitalization, mixed with numbers and symbols are impacting how students write.

Dena Nealy, who teaches language arts at East Garner Middle School, said she is seeing text message abbreviations have become a huge issue. She said she is seeing the letters “LOL,” which stand for “laugh out loud,” in students' work. However, the informal language of texting presents teachable moments, she said.

“When it comes to a classroom or professional writing, any type of professional or professional assignment, you need to learn to turn it off,” Nealy said

Julie Hoyes, who runs the Sylvan Learning Center in Garner, said she sees students writing the letters “UR” to represent the word “your.”

“Students need to be taught the differences between texting and writing an essay,” Hoyes said.

Hoyes is seeing a rise in spelling mistakes and sentence fragments in her tutoring.

Eighth grade student Stone Pearce admits that he has to be careful when writing.

“I put like 'UR' for your, and then I caught myself and was like, ‘What am I doing?’” he said.

Texting affecting students' writing Texting affecting students' writing

Teachers said they don’t hate everything about texting and social media. In fact, a five-year study at Stanford University published in 2009 shows that students are actually writing more than ever thanks to technology.

“By in large, students understand there’s a different audience,” said Susan Miller-Cochran, who directs the first-year writing program at North Carolina State University.

Miller-Cochran said she doesn’t see text speech as a problem, especially when she's teaching graduate students.

“I really think texting and social media give students the opportunity to think about audience in many ways. And that really is our primary goal as teachers of writing to help students understand audience,” she said.

Some N.C. State sophomores said they know when to draw the line.

“When I’m writing an academic paper, I think about every single sentence I’m writing,” student David Jones said.

But that emphasis sometimes gets lost for students in lower grades.

“When they’re constantly writing broken English, they’re used to reading broken English,” Nealy said.

The topic has even caught the attention of administrators at the Department of Public Instruction.

“If that is carried over into the formal writing environment, then it will diminish their ability to produce a really quality writing product,” said Maria Pitre-Martin, the director of K-12 Curriculum and Instruction for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.


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  • SouthernGirlJD Nov 21, 2011

    This is a sad truth!

  • haleibc Nov 18, 2011

    So teachers can see the negative effects of texting but they don't notice when a child is terrified to be in school because of being bullied by other students.

  • ksh33 Nov 18, 2011

    You know before texting came along hospitals and medicl personnel used short hand!! b.i.d., q.d., q.o.d, pt., ETOH, SPo2, O2, NRB, NC, IV, and etc....

    and this had a purpose - it was specific to a profession with a foundation in Latin; UR and BTW is (Twice a day) had a meaning specific to the dr and pharmacist; it was properly translated on the medicine bottle.

  • justabumer Nov 18, 2011

    While they are working on this perhaps the students could learn the proper use of the word "like".

  • MudLife Nov 18, 2011

    You know before texting came along hospitals and medicl personnel used short hand!! b.i.d., q.d., q.o.d, pt., ETOH, SPo2, O2, NRB, NC, IV, and etc....

  • sjb2k1 Nov 18, 2011

    I'm an editor/copywriter by trade, and stuff like this makes me die a little inside each time I see it. We are slowly witnessing the death of grammar and the English language. I don't even know how some of these kids can type like this: i wud lyk 2 c u 2

    It takes me so much longer to type that than "I would like to see you too"

  • mmtlash Nov 18, 2011

    I wonder if kids are going to eventually just say "LOL" instead of laughing....


  • Screw WrAl Nov 18, 2011

    Wait until they see what the effects of no money is going to have on their next budget.

  • Vietnam Vet Nov 18, 2011

    Nothing wrong with it, but as the article said, you need to turn it off for formal writing. There's a time and place for everything...

  • MudLife Nov 18, 2011

    its habit!!! LOL