Text Messaging and Formal Writing

The age at which most people buy or receive their first phone is rapidly becoming lower and lower.  Children are learning to text before they are learning to write formally.  Because texting involves short and informal messages, students with texting experience may lack embellishment in their writing.  The lingo and casual tone used in texting can also lead to errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  When texting, many people either use too much punctuation or none at all.  This can lead to comma splices and other errors when it comes time for formal writing.  Texting also often involves the “AutoCorrect” feature which corrects spelling mistakes while one is typing a text message.  In my personal experience, my spelling has gotten worse because of AutoCorrect.  If I am not sure how to spell something, but I can get close to the correct spelling, then my phone will correct the spelling for me.  I do not even have to look back at what I wrote.  Therefore, when people text with AutoCorrect, they may never learn how to fix their spelling mistakes.

The idea that teachers could allow students to use text acronyms in formal writing is ludicrous.   Students are young and easily influenced.  They remember what they are taught when they are young.  If students are allowed to use text acronyms in their writing at school, then they may slip up later in life and use text lingo and acronyms in professional situations.  School is preparation for the real, professional world.  This is one of the reasons schools sometimes have strict rules and dress codes.  Every minute a student spends learning and being in school is a minute spent prepping for their future.  The casual tone used in texting and the professional tone used in formal writing should be kept clear and separate to save students from confusion with writing later in life.

While text messaging can hurt a person’s formal writing skills, it may have some other positive impacts. One example is writing concisely.  Because texting is so short-worded, it may help students to keep their writing short and to the point.  A bit of embellishment can help one’s writing, but keeping it brief and purposeful is more important.  Texting may also be bringing students closer to writing.  In a study conducted by professors at Michigan State University, 93 percent of participants (1,366 students) said that they “wrote for personal fulfillment (Barseghian).  Jeff Gabrill, a writing professor conducting the study, noted that this generation of students writes more than any of their predecessors.  “They have to be doing something right.”


Barseghian, Tina. “Can Texting Develop Other Writing Skills?”MindShift. KQED News, 15 Aug. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.


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