London: Researchers including one of Indian origin have found that text messaging may offer tweens a quick way to send notes to friends and family, but it could lead to declining language and grammar skills, scientists say. Drew Cingel from Northwestern University said that tweens who frequently use language adaptations - techspeak - when they text, performed poorly on a grammar test.

When tweens write in techspeak, they often use shortcuts, such as homophones, omissions of non-essential letters and initials, to quickly and efficiently compose a text message.

"They may use a homophone, such as gr8 for great, or an initial, like, LOL for laugh out loud," Cingel said. "An example of an omission that tweens use when texting is spelling the word would, w-u-d," Cingel said.

Cingel, who worked with S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Penn State''s Media Effects Research Laboratory, said the use of these shortcuts may hinder a tween's ability to switch between techspeak and the normal rules of grammar.

Cingel gave middle school students in a central Pennsylvania school district a grammar assessment test. The researchers reviewed the test, which was based on a ninth-grade grammar review, to ensure that all the students in the study had been taught the concepts.

The researchers then passed out a survey that asked students to detail their texting habits, such as how many texts they send and receive, as well as their opinion on the importance of texting.

They also asked participants to note the number of adaptations in their last three sent and received text messages. Of the 542 surveys distributed, students completed and returned 228, or 42.1 percent.

"Overall, there is evidence of a decline in grammar scores based on the number of adaptations in sent text messages, controlling for age and grade," Cingel said.

According to Sundar, not only did frequent texting negatively predict the test results, but both sending and receiving text adaptations were associated with how poorly they performed on the test.

"In other words, if you send your kid a lot of texts with word adaptations, then he or she will probably imitate it," Sundar said.

"These adaptations could affect their off-line language skills that are important to language development and grammar skills, as well," he added. Sundar added that typical punctuation and sentence structure shortcuts that tweens use during texting, such as avoiding capital letters and not using periods at the end of sentences, did not seem to affect their ability to use correct capitalization and punctuation on the tests. The study has been published in New Media and Society.

(Agencies)

Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk