Negative Influence of Text Messaging on Teen Literacy

Nowadays, modern people utilize many ways of communication. Landline phones and regular mail with letters written by hand are considered old-fashioned things. Therefore, digital technologies using the Internet are becoming ever more popular. Most messengers have only a function of message traffic. As usual, all novelties become very demanded, especially among teenagers who cannot live without constant communication in different social networks. Some teachers suppose that constant text messaging affects teen literacy badly, and this opinion has substantial grounds.

The first contribution of messengers to teen illiteracy is the increasing use of contractions because of character limitations. Text in a message should be very short. To stay within certain limits, tweens prefer different shortcuts, acronyms, and abbreviations. For example, “BTH” instead “by the way,” “2U” instead “to you,” etc. Certainly, such word use influences spelling and grammar badly because teenagers may just forget proper spelling of long words. Moreover, text limits cannot give scope to imagination. It is the reason why many teenagers have so many problems with essay writing in college and at the university (Gannon, 2012). Text creation skills can be developed with the help of free writing, but this process should not be limited by a certain number of characters.

Bad spelling and grammar may become a habit, and social messaging may be seen as one of the primary reasons for its development. Latest investigations show that children who start using smartphones in elementary school and train their writing skills with the help of text messaging were less literate than pupils of senior age (Weller, 2014). This research was carried out with the help of 243 participants from elementary school, high school, and college. The results showed that students of high school and colleges saw the difference between cell phone messaging and academic writing. Therefore, use of shortcuts in messages was found to have a limited effect on their academic written tasks. However, pupils of elementary school had many problems with compositions in school because they just got a habit to write incorrectly (Weller, 2014).

Another way in which text messaging influences teen literacy badly lies in the texting process itself. Everybody needs some time to type a message, and he or she always concentrates attention on the process of typing. Nowadays, constant chatting in different messengers became very widespread, as well as the overall use of smartphones. If a teenager cannot live without a mobile phone, he or she will always keep it. Therefore, while there are no objections to use a mobile phone at school, teenagers can chat even at lessons, violating discipline. An even more important aspect is that teens are constantly distracted by these messages during the lessons. Certainly, it is not a good way to increase concentration and use it to learn something new. In this case, not only literacy but the general level of erudition will leave much to be desired. The best way out of this situation is to forbid the use of cell phones at school, which is nevertheless not always possible.

Summing the presented evidence up, one should note that communication is extremely important for each person, especially for teenagers. Nevertheless, constant chatting may lead to serious problems with grammar and spelling in the native language use. Therefore, it is necessary to control children’s use of their cell phones and help them to improve their writing skills since childhood. Real-life communication and many interesting books to read may save any child from illiteracy. Moreover, it is necessary to discuss this problem with teachers if such an opportunity arises; they are the primary stakeholders in the educational process and may control children’s use of smartphones in classrooms to a certain degree.


Gannon, M. (2012). Texting may lead to bad grammar. Live Science. Retrieved from
Weller, C. (2014). Can texting ruin a child’s grammar and spelling? The impact of learning to write on a cell phone. Medical Daily. Retrieved from

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