Teens Do Not Consider A Lot Of Their Electronic Texts as Writing
They see considerable benefits to using technology in their school and non-school writing and say they would welcome even more writing instruction.
WASHINGTON – The state of writing among teens today is marked by an interesting paradox: While teens are heavily embedded in a tech-rich world and craft a significant amount of electronic text, they see a fundamental distinction between their electronic social communications and the more formal writing they do for school or for personal reasons.
- 85% of youth ages 12-17 engage at least occasionally in some form of electronic personal communication, which includes text messaging, sending email or instant messages, or posting comments on social networking sites.
- 60% of teens do not think of these electronic texts as "writing."
Teens are utilitarian in their approach to technology and writing, using both computers and longhand depending on circumstances. Their use of computers for school and personal writing is often tied to the convenience of being able to edit easily. And while they do not think their use of computers or their text-based communications with friends influences their formal writing, many do admit that the informal styles that characterize their e-communications do occasionally bleed into their schoolwork.
- 57% of teens say they revise and edit more when they write using a computer.
- 63% of teens say using computers to write makes no difference in the quality of the writing they produce.
- 73% of teens say their personal electronic communications (email, IM, text messaging) have no impact on the writing they do for school, and 77% said they have no impact on the writing they do for themselves.
- 64% of teens admit that they incorporate, often accidentally, at least some informal writing styles used in personal electronic communication into their writing for school. (Some 25% have used emoticons in their school writing; 50% have used informal punctuation and grammar; 38% have used text shortcuts such as "LOL" meaning "laugh out loud.")
All of this matters more than ever because teenagers and their parents uniformly believe that good writing is a bedrock for future success. Eight in ten parents believe that good writing skills are more important now than they were 20 years ago, and 86% of teens believe that good writing ability is an important component of guaranteeing success later in life.
Recognizing this, 82% of teens say they think their writing would improve if teachers had them spend more class time doing writing. Blacks and those from lower-income households are the most ardent believers in the importance of writing and in the likely payoff of more class time devoted to it.
These are among the key findings in a national phone survey of 700 youth ages 12-17 and their parents conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the National Commission on Writing. The survey was completed in mid-November and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The report also contains findings from eight focus groups in four U.S. cities conducted in the summer of 2007.
Reprinted with the permission of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. © 2000 - 2008 Pew Internet & American Life Project.
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