Technology

Txtng Rlz!

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Over at Freedom Files, RS Davis asks Is Txtng Bad 4 Kds?, as many grammarians and language mavens might have you believe. The answer:

The British Journal of Developmental Psychology takes it a step further, saying that it is actually good for kids:

Beverly Plester and her colleagues at Coventry University in the UK asked 88 children aged 10 to 12 to write text messages describing 10 different scenarios. When they compared the number of textisms used to a separate study of the children's reading ability, they found that those who used more textisms were better readers.

Further, she asserted that "Phonological awareness has long been associated with good reading skills. These kids are engaging with more written language and they're doing it for fun."

Says Davis, "It's a free market language development—a little spntneus ordr, if you will. Whole post here.

Back in 2003, Charles Paul Freund called texting nothing less than a "Language Revolution."

Last year, Emory English professor, Reason contributor, and Dumbest Generation author Mark Bauerlein worried that, as his book's subtitle puts it, "the digital age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future." Watch below.

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  1. TOW THE LION!

  2. What the hell is Bauerlein doing here? His book’s premise is the kind of moral panic that Reason usually sees right through.

  3. Related question – at what age do kids realize writing in text/1337 makes you look retarded and lazy? Any forum that has participants spanning a wide age range (for me it’s guitar tabs and video games) generally has posts written in full sentences with words spelled out – people don’t like to look like idiots when they can help it, even kids. Especially with other people pointing it out to them.

    Also, considering the popularity of qwerty phones, this problem will phase itself out naturally and pretty quickly.

  4. at what age do kids realize writing in text/1337 makes you look retarded and lazy

    16 1/2.

    The other thing that probably phases out that behavior is that it’s kind of difficult to express any kind of sophisticated sentiment in it, so it’s not very useful on forums.

  5. Plato was worried that writing would destroy human knowledge, as it usurped memorization. And so on. There’s no evidence that kids’ language is affected by texting, any more than it is by any passing fad. A few terms will slip into the spoken and written language, as slang terms have since the beginning of slang in the 200th century BCE (not a typo).
    And yes, phonological awareness is enhanced by texting, and phonological awareness improves spelling (you can even read a little bit about it in my book).
    Old folks have always complained about the destruction of language, and young folks have always ignored them. In the end, the old folks die and the young folks become old, complaining about the deterioration of language.
    World without end. Amen.

  6. Meanwhile these kids are making more peaceful contacts with people from other cultures than the U.S. State Department.

    How can you go to war with someone you’ve hunted orcs with?

  7. “What the hell is Bauerlein doing here? His book’s premise is the kind of moral panic that Reason usually sees right through.”

    I don’t think he’s talking about morality at all, he’s talking about the spread of ignorance. Ancient Greek society vaunted its great thinkers. How much does our society mimic that?

    Could more Americans name a football player or movie star than could name James Clerk Maxwell? We owe the explosion of electronics and communications to his work, but most of us have not the foggiest who he was or what he did.

    We’re surrounded by technology, but are we using it to learn and understand more of the world around us, or are we mostly just using it to entertain ourselves?

  8. We’re surrounded by technology, but are we using it to learn and understand more of the world around us, or are we mostly just using it to entertain ourselves?

    Both, regardless of which of these we think we’re doing.

  9. This comes dangerously close to endorsing phonics as the proper method for teaching reading. We wouldn’t want the little dears to actually learn, now would we?

  10. Digital age, my ass. Our kids are ignorant because we pay the schooling cartel for failure.

    Even if we keep funding schools with tax money, the current system of assigning kids to schools instead of letting parents choose the school is bound for failure.

    We outspend Europe and Japan per capita, but the key difference is that their schools have to compete for students and funding.

    -jcr

  11. When they compared the number of textisms used to a separate study of the children’s reading ability, they found that those who used more textisms were better readers.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I acquired good reading skills by actually reading.

  12. Wow, what an awful argument. If you don’t find interesting the things Bauerlein finds interesting, you’re not a “complete citizen” or even a “complete individual.”

    I don’t know if it’s “old fogeyism” or just plain snobbery, or a mixture of both, but it sure is petty.

  13. I’m glad it helps kids read better, but text speech is unbearably annoying.

  14. I’m tired of these old farts ragging on my generation. For Bauerlein’s information I’ve forgotten more history than he’s guy has ever thought of. We’re not the generation that has riddled this country with trillions of dollars of debt, caused 9/11, led us to war in Iraq, and started the War on Drugs. Guess what dude? We’re going to be paying off your debt and fix your mistakes, all while paying for your retirement! This generation is more tech savvy, less patient, and more creative than the Boomers and GenX. Look at Obama and Ron Paul, who ran their campaigns, worked phone banks, and pounded pavement? Us! So don’t tell us we’re not informed or “plugged in.” Oh, and one more thing, you know who is making your print journalism job obsolete? A 20-something at his laptop with his own blog out hustling you for the scoop, how does that make you feel?

  15. Ancient Greek society vaunted its great thinkers. How much does our society mimic that?

    I’m happy to live in the modern world. You really think the Ancient Greeks were so much greater? Nuts to you.
    (And here’s an interesting analysis of ancient Greek culture)

    Could more Americans name a football player or movie star than could name James Clerk Maxwell?

    Yeah, but so what?

  16. “A 20-something at his laptop with his own blog”

    rad dude, u got ur on blog. how did u set that up, man. ur so made a win

  17. Check this article out here, Nick (http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/9015), for a British neuroscientist who finds that “social networking websites are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter are said to shorten attention spans, make young people more self-centered, and encourage instant gratification.”

    Who knows if that’s true or not? A few decades might make it clear. But as for the young being “tech-savvy,” forget it. Most of them can’t say whether a web site is reliable or not, and when they do web searches they can’t retrieve pertinent information on their own.

    Plus, if I had a penny for every commentator who says, “Hey, Socrates thought writing was bad–this is just another old story, an old fogey knocking the young.”

    Well, yeah, old folks knock the young, and that’s one of their jobs. They’re supposed to let them know that history didn’t begin on their 13th birthday, and that Alexander Hamilton may be more important that the popular crowd in 11th grade.

    With Facebook, Twitter, texting, and the rest, though, they can indulge their adolescence all the more. Think of it–a 17-year-old able to post pictures and tell stories and offer comments on the minutiae of his own life.

    One of the achievements of maturity, though, is to realize that 99 percent of what happens to you in an ordinary week is of pretty much no significance at all to anybody else.

  18. Well, yeah, old folks knock the young, and that’s one of their jobs.

    In that case, it sounds like a government job, because, for the most part, it simply doesn’t work. It never has and it never will. And to suggest that not caring about literature or history makes one an “incomplete individual” is sure to continue this trend of failure.

    My father-in-law is a fisherman in Vieques. He built his boat and he built his house. He works all day, loves life, is always smiling, and he helps anyone who comes to him needing it. He probably knows less about history or literature than your average U.S. teen. But he is more of a “complete citizen,” more of a “complete individual” than the vast majority of professionals and academics I’ve encountered in my lifetime.

  19. Holy shit, Bauerlein, just type “get off my lawn” and make with the brevity. Because what you’re saying is just a more verbose version of the same.

  20. –. . – / — ..-. ..-. / — -.– / .-.. .- .– -.

  21. Bonus points if you use Gran Torin-esque grunts and racial slurs.

  22. Does someone on Reason’s staff give Bauerlein a call and tell him when he’s mentioned in a Hit and Run post, or does he just google himself constantly? He always manages to show up in the comments for these.

    By the way, Bauerlein, you like to read so much, how about you check your faulty premise with James Flynn, you curmudgeon?

    The idea that if you don’t possess the esoteric knowledge of a college American Lit professor then you are an incomplete human being is either a mark of vanity or a mark of close-mindedness — which, oddly enough, the very social networking tools being skewered help combat (close-mindedness, that is, not vanity.)

  23. Sorry, ben tej, but the Flynn Effect has nothing to do with this issue. I have several pages on it in the book I wrote, but don’t trust me. Check what Flynn himself says about it in essays following up on his discovery. Among other things, he says that the more cultural material is added to tests (such as vocabulary), the more the Flynn Effect goes down.

    And nobody is asking for “esoteric knowledge,” either. If knowing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is esoteric, then we’re in trouble. Maybe you don’t know that not so long ago the central event in communities on July 4th wasn’t a fireworks display. It was a public reading and rereading of the Declaration. I repeat, if you don’t know the Constitution, you are, precisely, an inadequate citizen. (Although I agree with Les in his characterization of academics.)

    Finally, Episiarch, the worn-out cliche doesn’t account for the neuroscientist I quoted in my comment.

  24. Maybe you don’t know that not so long ago the central event in communities on July 4th wasn’t a fireworks display. It was a public reading and rereading of the Declaration.

    Define “not so long ago.” If we’re talking at least 50 years ago, then certainly many of these same enlightened communities were probably actively engaged in all kinds of bigotry and oppression. My point is, that knowing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence doesn’t mean you’re not an anti-freedom authoritarian (I suspect people like John Yoo and Eric Holder are more familiar with the document than most freedom loving individualists). I’d go so far as to suggest that knowing those documents doesn’t even decrease the chances that one is an anti-freedom authoritarian.

    I repeat, if you don’t know the Constitution, you are, precisely, an inadequate citizen.

    If you replace the word “inadequate” with the words “less empowered,” I’d agree with you. But I’d prefer citizens who were ignorant of the Constitution and who were also kind, hard-working, and uninterested in disrupting the lives of his or her fellow citizens, than citizens who have memorized the Constitution and think seat-belt laws are a fine idea.

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