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Does SMS text messaging help or harm adults’ knowledge of standard spelling?

Powell, D. ORCID: and Dixon, M. (2011) Does SMS text messaging help or harm adults’ knowledge of standard spelling? Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27 (1). pp. 58-66. ISSN 1365-2729

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00403.x


The recent increase in short messaging system (SMS) text messaging, often using abbreviated, non-conventional ‘textisms’ (e.g. ‘2nite’), in school-aged children has raised fears of negative consequences of such technology for literacy. The current research used a paradigm developed by Dixon and Kaminska, who showed that exposure to phonetically plausible misspellings (e.g. ‘recieve’) negatively affected subsequent spelling performance, though this was true only with adults, not children. The current research extends this work to directly investigate the effects of exposure to textisms, misspellings and correctly spelledwords on adults’ spelling. Spelling of a set of key words was assessed both before and after an exposure phase where participants read the same key words, presented either as textisms (e.g. ‘2nite’), correctly spelled (e.g. ‘tonight’) or misspelled (e.g. 'tonite’)words. Analysis showed that scores decreased from pre- to post-test following exposure to misspellings, whereas performance improved following exposure to correctly spelled words and, interestingly, to textisms. Data suggest that exposure to textisms, unlike misspellings, had a positive effect on adults’ spelling. These findings are interpreted in light of other recent research suggesting a positive relationship between texting and some literacy measures in school-aged children.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:26576
Uncontrolled Keywords:literacy, modern technology, spelling.

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