I have to share an email I received yesterday. The title of the piece was, “Text Messaging Destroying Kids Writing?” Being a professional writer, I thought I better check it out. At worst, my new employee hiring prospects could be expected to suffer in the years to come. At best, I could expect to be gainfully employed for years to come providing content with so little new talent expected to emerge out of youth ranks.
“We have a whole generation being raised without communication skills,” said Jacquie Ream, former teacher and author of “K.I.S.S. – Keep It Short and Simple.” She contends text messaging and the internet are destroying the way our kids read, think, and write.
Cited in the release were two statistics: a National Center for Education Statistics study that found that only one out of four high school seniors is a proficient writer; and a College Board survey of blue-chip companies that found only two-thirds of their employees are capable writers. Frankly, I am not too terribly shocked at these numbers, but I am biased — while I think it’s true that just about anyone can learn to write adequately, “proficient” writing is a born-in talent, in my humble opinion. And two-thirds of employees at blue-chip companies being able write adequately doesn’t sound too unreasonable to me, either.
Anyway, the release goes on with more from Ream: “These kids aren’t learning to spell. They’re learning acronyms and short hand. Text messaging is destroying the written word. The students aren’t writing letters, they’re typing into their cell phones one line at a time. Feelings aren’t communicated with words when your texting; emotions are sideways smiley faces. Kids are typing shorthand jargon that isn’t even a complete thought.”
OK, while I admit to having a bit of concern about texting, it’s more about the lack of human connection than it is about kids learning to write. It’s also because I’m old and a part of the unwashed masses that have not felt the need to climb aboard the texting train. And, I have really fat fingers — typing 10 digits to call someone on these tiny phones is challenge enough.
Well, I suppose it was bound to happen — whatever the up and coming generation embraces that the older folks don’t understand will assuredly destroy the kids. As for me, I see it as a tool to supplement communication, not one that replaces it. Used to be that we would connect with our friends two ways — call on the phone or show up on the doorstep. My high school daughter can, and does, connect with friends in a half dozen ways I am aware of, and probably more I’m not. Why? Because they can.
It’s hard to imagine that texting will survive much longer. Surely another appliance will come along that’s easier, faster, and adaptable to fat fingers. And then whatever that thing is will just as surely threaten the literacy and competency of the next generation.