Instant Messaging: Friend or Foe of Student Writing?

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Instant Messaging: Friend or Foe of Student Writing?

Introduction

With the commercial advent of the Internet and cell phones in the late 1990’s, technologies such as instant messaging (IM) and text messaging (TM) have achieved increasing prevalence in our society. These types of messaging technologies are widely used among adolescents today. To cite just one personal example of this widespread usage, my friend’s daughter, who is now 11 and lives in Ireland, got a cell phone last year, and, according to my friend, “was the last person in her class to get one.” This is quite an amazing change, given that ten years ago, instant messaging and text messaging were in their infancy, and cell phones were only readily available as tools for roadside assistance.

Given the newness of these types of technologies, it is only in the last few years that educators have started to notice them and explore their effects on student behavior and performance. While there is supporting evidence to suggest that these technologies have a large influence on the social development of adolescents, an even more pertinent issue for classroom teachers is what effects these technologies have on the academic development of young people. In this article, I examine how students’ use of text messaging technology, specifically IM, affects their writing skills. How does IM use affect students’ interest in traditional writing (as learned in school)? In what ways does IM usage affect students’ writing ability? How does “IM-speak” change students’ views of what is considered “proper” language? How can classroom teachers build on student use of this increasingly popular technology? In this paper I provide a discussion of the current issues and current teacher pra...

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...lts. If students understand where and when it is appropriate to use certain types of language, then allowing them to use IM-speak can be beneficial in building student-teacher relationships, in enhancing students’ comfort level in school settings, and in improving academic performance.

IM lingo is evidence of the evolution of language, and as Brown-Owens, Eason, and Lader (2003) point out, teachers need to realize that – for better or for worse – IM is widely used among many adolescents and is consequently a strong influence on student academic performance. For who knows? Given its roots in other languages, sometime soon we may even be teaching IM-speak as a legitimate form of language.

Works Cited:

Connor, Amanda. "Instant Messaging: Friend or Foe of Student Writing?" From http://www.newhorizons.org/strategies/literacy/oconnor.htm. Access Date: April, 2005
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