Social Networking and Social Skills

In the article “Teen texting Soars; Will Social Skills Suffer?” Jennifer Ludden (2010) states that cell phones have become a vital social tool for American teens, and texting is their preferred mode of communication. Ludden (2010) refers to poll results by Pew Research Center where it was found that the number of daily text messages sent by American teens has increased from 38 percent to 54 percent within the last 18 months. Many teens admit texting during class times, even in case the use of cell phones in class is prohibited in their schools.

In my opinion, emailing, texting, and/or online chatting impedes an individual’s writing skills greatly when over used. Email, text messages, and online chats are instant ways of communicating. In many cases, the individuals communicating use short words through use of abbreviations and/or slang in order to reduce the amount of time taken to type a piece of information and send it to the other person. Besides, it is common that the receiver of information prefers short pieces of information, in order to save the amount of time spent for reading the information. These issues contribute to the use of incorrectly structured sentences and/or slang when texting, emailing, or chatting online. When an individual gets used to using slang, abbreviations (where some of them are not grammatically approved), and incorrectly structured and punctuated sentences, he/she gets tends to apply the same writing style when doing formal writing.

It is believed that when something is done repeatedly, it becomes a habit, which in many cases, becomes hard to get rid of. I have a friend who is used to using all manners of abbreviations when texting and chatting online. For example, he uses letter ‘c’ instead of the word ‘see’, ‘em’ for ‘them’, ‘y’ for ‘why’, ‘cn’ for ‘seen’ among others. Recently, I borrowed some notes from him and I was surprised to see that he uses the same abbreviations while writing class notes. It is most likely that he uses the same writing style during exams, and this is likely to make him lose many marks, because the teachers may not understand what the abbreviations mean. Harvard-Westlake High School is a good example of where such cases have been reported and where one of the teachers, Nini Halkett, laments of bad spelling and writing among her students as texting becomes widespread (Ludden, 2010).

Nonetheless, students can limit the effects of electronic social networking by reducing the amount of time they spend on the networks. Less the time on electronic social network means a smaller number of text messages, emails, and online chats. This would eventually reduce the use of incorrect grammar, abbreviations, and/or slang, which affect students’ writing skills. Likewise, the teachers should introduce stern corrective measures to students found using the writing style of text messages and online chats in class. This would discourage students from using incorrect grammar and sentence structure even when texting, emailing, or chatting online.

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