Text speak doesn't affect kids' grammar

Using text speak doesn’t necessarily mean that children have a bad grasp of grammar, new research has suggested.

The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation* and carried out by a team of researchers from Coventry University led by Professor Clare Wood presented its findings at the Society’s Developmental Section's conference this week.

Professor Wood explained: “In recent years there has been widespread concern about the impact that children’s texting behaviour may have on their developing understanding of written and spoken language conventions.  However, surprisingly little research has been undertaken to examine such claims.”

In this study 83 primary school children and 78 secondary school children provided samples of their text messages and completed standardised assessments which measured their IQ, spelling and understanding of written and spoken grammar.  They were then reassessed one year later, to enable the team to consider the nature of any relationships between texting and grammatical development over time.  The participants’ text messages were analysed for evidence of grammatical errors made at both time points.

There was no evidence of any significant relationships between the tendency to break grammatical rules when texting and understanding of standard written or spoken grammar. 

Professor Wood concluded: “We found no evidence of a link between poor grammar when texting and the actual grammatical understanding of UK children.  Therefore there is no reason to assume that just because children play with the representation of written language when they are texting that this will somehow damage or undermine their appreciation of standard grammar over time.”

The study was also reported in The Daily Telegraph.

*The Nuffield Foundation is an endowed charitable trust that aims to improve social well-being in the widest sense. It funds research and innovation in education and social policy and also works to build capacity in education, science and social science research. The Nuffield Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation.