56 I COVER STORY I
JULY 22, 2009 WEST NEWSMAGAZINE
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By GRETCHEN A. HARMAN In todayâ€™s society, almost all teens use All teens write at least some for school, some form of instant messaging (IM), tex- but 93 percent of kids surveyed said ting or online social networking to keep that they write for themselves outside of in touch with friends and family. A recent school. Nielsen study found the average teen sends â€œThere is clearly a big gap in the minds 2,200 texts a month, an average of approxi- of teenagers between the â€˜realâ€™ writing they mately 80 messages a day. do for school and the texts they compose The use of e-mail and other types of for their friends,â€? said Amanda Lenhart, electronic communication are by no means co-author of the Pew report, in a stateteaching youngsters proper English, how- ment. â€œYet it is also clear that writing holds ever. a central place in the lives of teens and in â€œKids growing up today do not know their vision about the skills they need for how to write properly,â€? teacher Joan Long the future.â€? said. â€œI feel when they grow up, our busiOther findings from the study revealed: ness world is going to suffer.â€? * 57 percent of teens said they revise and A study released from the Pew Internet edit more when they write using a com& American Life Project and the National puter. Commission on Writing showed that 60 * 63 percent of teens said using computpercent of those teens surveyed in the ers to write makes no difference in the United States do not view electronic texts quality of the writing they produce. as actual writing, however. To compile its * 60 percent of teens do not think of elecdata, Pew interviewed 700 kids by phone tronic texts as â€œwriting.â€? and conducted several focus groups in * 73 percent of teens said their personal various U.S. cities. electronic communications (e-mail, IM, The study went on to state that at least text messaging) have no impact on the 64 percent of kids age 12 to 17 admit that writing they do for school, while 77 perthey incorporate, often accidentally, some cent said they have no impact on the writinformal writing styles from digital com- ing they do for themselves. munication; for example, using emoticons * 25 percent have used emoticons in (a symbol or combination of symbols used their school writing; 50 percent have used to convey emotional content in written or informal punctuation and grammar; 38 permessage form) like â€œLOLâ€? acronyms and cent have used text shortcuts such as LOL bad punctuation in their writing for school. (meaning â€œlaugh out loudâ€?). â€œWhat is the business world going to * 82 percent of teens said they think their encounter when teenagers grow up and writing would improve if teachers had them enter the workforce?â€? Long said. â€œWill spend more time in class on writing. they feel it is OK to write an e-mail with Some local businesses can already see LOLs or bad grammar?â€? the potential future of this communication The study also indicated that 86 percent issue. of teens consider good writing skills essenâ€œI once heard my high school teacher say tial to their future success. Their parents that Latin was a â€˜deadâ€™ language and that believe this, too, as eight in 10 parents think that good writing skills are more important now than they were 20 years ago. See TECHNOLOGY, page 57