“Feelings aren’t communicated with words when you’re texting; emotions are sideways smiley faces. Kids are typing shorthand jargon that isn’t even a complete thought.â€
It would have been nice if Britney Spears had felt the need to communicate a serious subject matter such as divorce to her current ex-husband Kevin Federline when she decided to let him go. But no, Ms. Spears sent a text message telling of her intention to sever the marriage. Good manners – and good communication – are part of what’s falling to the wayside with the popularity of text messaging, experts say.
“We have a whole generation being raised without communication skills,” says Jacquie Ream, former teacher and author of K.I.S.S.: Keep It Short and Simple (Book Publishers Network; $11.95). Ream contends text messaging and the social networking sites are destroying the way our kids read, think and write. Some statistics back it up.
A recent National Center for Education Statistics study reports only one out of four high school seniors is a proficient writer. A College Board survey of the nation’s blue-chip companies found only two thirds of employees are capable writers.
“Kids are continuing to do acronyms and short hand. Text messaging is destroying the written word – they’re typing into cell phones one line at a time. Feelings aren’t communicated with words when you’re texting; emotions are sideways smiley faces. Kids are typing shorthand jargon that isn’t even a complete thought,” she laments.
“There’s a whole generation that can’t come up with new ideas because they are not writing,” says Ream. “And even if they do have a breakthrough thought or opinion of their own, they rarely share it with the rest of us.â€
This generation, however, isn’t a complete â€˜write off.’ Ream says parents can make a big difference in the way their children communicate by making writing easier for them. She says you can use a part of the summer to teach your teens to organize thoughts on paper. Encourage their writing efforts through journaling, poetry contests, idea-of-the-day assignments to keep them thinking.
Every generation has great minds with great thoughts that can guide the rest of us. If teenagers aren’t taught to groom their opinions and ideas so that they can write effectively, society will lose out on a generation of creativity. “If we let kids get caught up in technology, America will lose out on great words, thoughts and novels that will never be written.â€
Susan Day is the editorial director for this publication. She has four children, ages 14, 12, 10 and 5.