Technology, Tweens, and the Effect of Techspeak on English Grammar

Open Access
Cingel, Drew
Area of Honors:
Media Studies
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • S. Shyam Sundar, Thesis Supervisor
  • S. Shyam Sundar, Honors Advisor
  • Mary Beth Oliver, Faculty Reader
  • adolescents
  • text messaging
  • grammar
Within the past decade, cell phones have become a ubiquitous accessory, with more and more adolescents using them as the primary mode of communication. Along with it has grown the culture of text messaging, with its short, terse exchanges, abbreviations, and grammatical compromises. Gone are the days of carefully composed e-mail messages. If the bulk of an adolescent’s textual exchanges occurs in the form of short text messages, might it adversely affect his/her sense of written grammar? A survey was conducted to test the possibility that higher numbers of text messages sent and received by sixth, seventh and eighth grade children would lead to significantly lower scores on an age-appropriate grammar assessment. Results indicate support for this hypothesis. Also, this study presents a model where the average number of errors in sent text messages mediates between average received error and a child’s total grammar score, indicating support for Social Learning Theory and confirming anecdotal evidence of parents and teachers regarding a negative effect on grammar. Implications of these results are discussed.