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Report finds texting a 'valid educational tool'

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Kids who frequently use mobile phone text abbreviations are unlikely to be bad at spelling or lack reading skills, a new British study has claimed.

Dr Clare Wood, Reader in Developmental Psychology at Coventry University, studied the use of “textisms” – abbreviations such as ‘plz’ and ‘hmwrk’ — by a group of kids aged between eight and 12 over the course of one academic year.

Texting “appears to be a valuable form of contact with written English for many children, which enables them to practise reading and spelling on a daily basis,” Wood concluded.

“If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it.”

Frequent texting also helps develop a child’s phonological awareness – their ability to detect, isolate and manipulate patterns of sound in speech — the report added.

Unsurprisingly, the report also found that the frequency of texting terminology in speech increases with up the age range, from just 21 per cent in school year four to 47 per cent in year six. Wood attributed this to the fact that more sophisticated literacy skills are needed for texting use.

Lessons in text message speech are unlikely to become a mandatory part of the national curriculum. However, Wood is confident that further research will help teachers and parents recognise “the potential to use text-based exercises to engage children in phonological awareness activities”. ®

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