What are implications of cyber communication on writing
skill of teenagers? Educators are concerned that the youth
diary writing or free writing habits are being taken over by
face book and text messaging. Eventually, this medium is
altering their typographical skills.
Resource person: - Muhammad Shaban Rafi
Presented by: - Maqsood Ahmad
ID #: - 090418002 (Sociolinguistics)
Program: - MSc (applied Linguistics)
University of Management and Technology,
Johar Town, Lahore
According to the free Dictionary online cyber is a prefix that means computer or computer
network. It means it is an electronic medium in which online communication takes place.
Cyber communication (relating to computers and the Internet in which some adjectives and
nouns are used) is a new way to interact in society. Online social networking websites, text
messages and emails (Internet short hand, net speak or chat speak) provide users an effective
and a quick way to communicate with people all over the world. Teenagers spend hours every
day online, on computers or personal electronic devices particularly. The effects of cyber
communication have both positive and negative consequences for teenagers.
Family rescource.com states that 48 percent of teenagers believe that Internet improves their
friendships. Social networking sites are becoming popular and youth are able to stay
connected with their online friends. Some teenagers believe that cyber connections help them
to feel confident by themselves. Instant messaging programs allow conversations with friends
to occur in real time. Online communication tools open the door for friendships with near and
Teenagers are using cyber forms of communication online frequently and they don’t require
formal writing skills. Youths often use shorthand, abbreviations or slang when they write
online quite opposite to actual or standard language. The National Commission on Writing
states that 85 percent of teenagers use social networking communication, but 60 percent of
them don't see this form of communication as "writing." They should be aware of the
difference between formal and informal writing, and understand when the latter is not
I collected this data from different sites of internet (these sites are cited in the list of
references) and from my students and my known ones especially from messages. I told them
about the cyber communication and asked about the messages they had sent or received
through mobiles or emails. I told them reason that I wanted to analyse this data for research
purposes because now a days people especially teenagers are using abbreviations in their
emails and cell messages instead of standard spellings. So I want to analyse those effects
which are affecting the standard language by using these abbreviations. They provided me the
data as much as they had.
Pew Institute and American Life Project in April 2008 reported that while 60 percent of
teenagers participating in the study did not consider text messaging and other forms of
electronic communication to be real writing while two thirds of the students used emoticons
and Internet abbreviations such as “LOL” in academic papers.
David Crystal, a British linguist and author of the book Language and the Internet, rejects the
notion that the Internet harms students’ writing. “The main effect of the Internet on language
has been to increase the expressive richness of language, providing the language with a new
set of communicative dimensions that haven’t existed in the past.” He says the actively
changing nature of the Internet makes it difficult to stay current in studying its effects but
he believes its influence on language is small.
Professor Dean also does not believe that the Internet necessarily leads to bad writing and
says that she has noticed an increase in the number of her students who use technology in
their writing; she says “has its ups and downside.” Dean thinks that language should change
and technology can influence that change, as long as it adheres to a foundation in what she
considers “correctness.” “I am very much a student of the evolution of language,” Dean
says. “I believe language should change effectively change, not just weakly embrace bad
language but it should effectively change to accommodate the needs of our culture, still
upholding the standards of good English.”
As Dean asserts, language is meant to change, to evolve. Modern English is not the same as
Shakespearean English and it should not be like that. The purpose of language is to
communicate, so language and writing should adapt to the method that makes communication
most effective. If the majority of high school students are not proficient writers then the
majority of high school student cannot effectively communicate in their academic settings.
This trend carries over into college writing and if it is not corrected at that level then colleges
and universities will produce graduates who are not prepared to compete in the workforce
that requires strong writing skills.
Regardless of whether poor writing habits come from text messaging, Internet use or another
factor, educators need to emphasize to students the basics of good writing. Grammar and
spelling lessons may not be effective side of teaching, but they are imperative if students are
to improve their writing skills. A great writer does not pick up his or her pen for the first
time and write a best seller. Strong writing comes from repeatedly learning the rules,
practicing and mastering those rules. Outside factors cannot damage students’ writing as
much if students understand what is and is not acceptable in academic writing.
The National Center for Educational Statistics administers writing assessments to high school
students across the United States and their most recent report in 2007 shows poor
performance among students. According to the study, “about one student in five produces
completely unsatisfactory prose, about 50 percent meets ‘basic’ requirements, and only one in
five can be called ‘proficient’.” If students’ poor writing skills from high school are not
corrected in college, students could be adversely affected post-education. “We are judge on
how we communicate. We are judged on how we speak and how we write,” says Madeleine
Dean, English professor at La Salle University.
Some argue that increased text messaging and Internet use are to blame for students’ poor
writing. Eleanor Johnson, English professor at Columbia University, agrees. “I think that
text messaging has made students believe that it’s far more acceptable than it actually is to
just make screamingly atrocious spelling and grammatical errors.”
Students' Writing and the Web: -
Some teachers blame the Internet for an increase in spelling and grammar errors. But
language experts praise it for making communication more expressive. Transcript of radio
broadcast: This is the Voice of America Special English Education Report. Web browsers
first appeared on computers in the early nineteen nineties. Since then, the Internet has
greatly changed the way people communicate. But some teachers think the changes are not
all for the better.
Eleanor Johnson is an English professor at Columbia University in New York. "I think that
text messaging has made students believe that it's far more acceptable than it actually is to
just make screamingly atrocious spelling and grammatical errors." She says her students
over the past several years have increasingly used less formal English in their writing. She
says words and phrases like "guy" and "you know" now appear in research papers. And she
now has to talk about another problem in class, she says incorrect word use. For example, a
student says "preclude" instead of "precede" when talking about one event coming before
another. It sounds like “precede” but it means prevent. She suspects a strong link between
the rise of instant and casual communication online and an increase in writing mistakes.
But she admits there may not be much scientific evidence, at least not yet.
Erin Jansen is founder of Net lingo, an online dictionary of Internet and text messaging
terms. She says the new technology has not changed existing language but has greatly
added to the vocabulary. "Basically it's a freedom of expression," she says.
And what about teachers, who find these new kinds of mistakes in spelling and grammar in
their students’ work, what is her message to them? She says "I always advocate, don't get
angry or upset about that and get creative. If it's helping the kids write more or
communicate more in their first draft, that's great. That's what teachers and educators want,
is to get kids communicating." But Erin Jansen and David Crystal agree with Eleanor
Johnson on at least one thing. Teachers need to make sure students understand the uses and
rules of language.
Some implications of cyber communication on teenagers’ writing skills: -
1. If u wnt 2 se how fast ur mdr cn run? Jst tel hr: Ami dudh ubl gaya.
In this example we can see that grammatically, semantically and syntactically this sentence is
alright but no proper spellings are there and even the sender is using Urdu version of
language. It means he is mixing Urdu code into English language. It is also an infusion of
Urdu language into English. The writer did these spelling mistakes intentionally and he/she
used the abbreviations instead of spellings for his/her convenience. These spelling mistakes
or abbreviations are called shortening and now a day it is a cool way of communication.
He/she also used English spellings for Urdu words because teenagers are very much use to
and feel it very easy to write English spellings on internet or cell phone instead of Urdu. The
second thing is that he/she is successful in conveying his/her message. These new words
being abbreviations for existing long used words and phrases don't enrich anything but they
are just shortening the original words.
2. Whts hpnd wid u….?
In this message again the writer used the abbreviations instead of proper spellings and saved
his/her time and energy but again he/she is successful in conveying his/her message. These
abbreviations are just shortening of the original words. This sentence is also syntactically and
grammatically alright. But these abbreviations are creating new words for English language.
3. Nobody cn give u advice than urself. So if u wnt 2 take any opinion u take suggestion
from ur heart becuz heart is ur mirror which shoz a ri8 path 4 ur leading way.
4. Victory leads u 4 success.
5. Maan 4 u: salam my dear frndz don’t ad xchange nd join, “zabi-15” becuz he is a lier
prson. 4m the owner of maan 4. plz show it 2 my frndz.
In these three messages the writer again used abbreviations and shortenings instead of whole
spellings. These shortenings has made the writer more creative and he/she has become much
more successful in his communications but according to Erin Jansen, David Crystal and
Eleanor Johnson teachers need to make sure students understand the uses and rules of
Here are some abbreviations, which are used very commonly.
“ROFL" Rolling on the Floor Laughing
"BTW" By the Way
"AKA" also known as
“AEAP” - as early as possible
“ALAP” - as late as possible
“F2F” – face to face
“ILU” - I love you
Educators are getting worried as more and more students are involving themselves in
text speak over their mobile phones and computers because their writing skills are suffering.
A short message format routinely sacrifices grammar, syntax, and punctuation for the sake of
slang and brevity. There is concern that students who frequently express themselves in
abbreviations and smiley faces may lose the capacity for more grammatically correct writing.
But other educators see little evidence that the language of texting is having a negative
impact on students' schoolwork. In fact, some are even glad that students are communicating
so frequently through writing and are creating their own language.
Does text messaging harm students' writing skills? Comments from teachers:-
Yes. I believe students are carrying over the writing habits they pick up through text
messaging into school assignments.
Maybe, although text messaging may have some impact on how students write, I don't think
it's a significant problem.
No. I believe students can write one way to their friends and another way in class. They can
keep the two methods separate.
I believe texting helps you throughout college as long as you know not to use it in papers. I
can take notes so much faster now that I am used to so many abbreviations and I find that it is
easier to make abbreviations for longer words in my science classes and remember them at
the end of the day. I used to have to write everything out and now it only takes HALF the
time to take the notes it would have taken me forever to take. So in that way txting and the
abbs for txting can help a student.
Gayle Blodgett: - I think you are right. I teach at a community college and I explain to my
students very early on that one writing style does not fit all situations. This is really nothing
new there have always been different styles for different purposes. Business writing,
technical writing, fiction writing, formal writing why these are a big deal to people? I think it
tends to be a bigger problem for people who don't use it in their personal lives but I am in my
fifties and me text quite a bit. I also use Face Book and Twitter because I think you have to
stay abreast of current trends.
Yes it has impact on formal writing skills: - I have observed a relationship between text
messaging and declining quality of formal writing skills. More empirical research is
conducted that closely examines potential variables that attribute to the decline in quality
writing. We simply need to make sure that students understand the difference between the
written language used for text messaging and the written language used in other writing
Spencer: - While I believe that texting is absolutely working its way into students' homework
and everyday dialogues among themselves and sometimes toward adults, I think it is a perfect
teachable opportunity for students to learn about the exclusive/inclusive power of language
and how word choice or style can impact communication, specifically audience and
appropriateness. Professional educators should always look for ways to teach their subjects in
a way that is interesting to students. Viewing texting as a popular way of communication and
as an example of how a language lives and changes, taps into a very interesting topic students
can then relate to and take an active role in. Harnessing this interest goes beyond throwing in
an off-hand "LOL" for the students' entertainment or to feed some hope of gaining "street
cred" with one's youth. Fashioning assignments that use such language and creating
opportunities to have discussions about the popularity of texting and its effect on today's
language validates the idea that the youth of a language spoken is the true smithy in which
any language is shaped.
Doc: - I am 23 and commonly use text messages. However, I have never in my life felt the
need to abbreviate things that are undeserved of abbreviation. For example, why would you
abbreviate a 3 (you) letter word, down to a 1 letter word (u). Or a 4 letter word (what) into a 3
letter word (wut). It's just absurd. Maybe t9 should start correcting "wut" in "what" etc.
Anyway, my main point here is that I have a little sister in 8th grade, who likes many is a die
hard "texter". She is a terrible speller. Her and her friends cannot distinguish the different
between various common words. "There" becomes commonplace for every form of the word,
"They're", their, than, then, too, two, to. We are yet to see the consequences of a generation of
kids who are less literate, not to mention who are going to look like inarticulate fools when
Irene green: - Language is a life entity, and it is changing with the rest of the world's
content. The changes are part of both, adapting to an active present and to the mystery of the
Eventually, this medium is altering the teenager’s typographical skills.
Yes, the researcher is agreed with this statement that this medium is altering the
typographical skills of teenagers but the question is, “Is this medium changing the language?”
The answer is “NO”. Why? Because it is only changing the spellings of words not the
language. In this era English language has changed into lingua franca and has got the status
of world Englishes. Now there are European English, American English, Australian English,
Indian English, Singaporean English, African English and so on and they all have
typographical styles in them and these changes are acceptable all over the world. So we may
say that this typographical change will enrich English language and everybody will get a
room to communicate in English language very easily.
After this discussion the researcher concluded that English language has got so many
typographical changes till its birth. These changes enriched it very much and gave it the
status of lingua franca and world Englishes. If there were no changes then perhaps English
language never got so much appreciation and never got the status of lingua franca. For
example, if Shakespeare can comeback in this age then can he understands this English
language? The answer will definitely be “No”. The reason is that English has got so many
changes and people of every age and area developed their own words according to their
needs. These words facilitated them as they wanted and when a word is introduced in a
speech community it becomes the part of that language and every body of that speech
community can use and understand that word frequently. So we can say that every new
introduced word enrich a language especially English.
http://www.edutopia.org/poll text messaging writing skills? page=4