How Texting Affects your Child Academically

Children are texting fanatics, especially teens.  Research show they send more than 2,000 texts a month.  With their heads down and their thumbs pumping like pistons, they retreat into a world of GMTA, FOMCL, DUCWIM and HHIS (see translations below).  But that’s good news and bad news.

The downsides of texting are obvious:  it steals time away from homework, limits family communications (we’re assuming most texts aren’t sent to Mom and Dad), isolates kids from the real world, and promotes bad grammar.

Specifically, students who want to do well in English should put away the smart phones.  A recent study shows that texting has a negative impact on grammar skills.

Northwestern Doctoral Candidate Drew Cingel surveyed 228 middle school students in Pennsylvania about the number of texts they sent and received, their attitudes about texting and other activities they engaged in, such as reading or watching television.

They were then given a 22-question grammar quiz.  The material included verb/noun agreement, use of correct tense, homophones, possessives, apostrophes, comma usage, punctuation, and capitalization. The results showed that the more often students sent text messages using shortened words and symbols, the lower their scores on the quiz.

As another example, one mother noticed that her son’s Math grade fell from a C to a D after he started using a cell phone.  After blocking his texting for only a week, he brought his grade up to a C+.

So what’s the upside of texting?  It improves spelling.  Researchers at Coventry University provided a group of middle schoolers cell phones for texting during a 10-week period.  The students scored higher on a spelling exam than their peer students who weren’t given cell phones.

According to the report, “the association between spelling and text messaging may be explained by the ‘highly phonetic nature’ of the abbreviations used by children and the alphabetic awareness required for successfully decoding the words.”  Basically, figuring out what all of those alphabet letters mean helps kids spell better.

And texting actually improves the essay-writing ability of older students, concludes research conducted by the California University System.

Cindi Rigsbee, a teacher in Orange County, North Carolina, knows the merits of texting first hand: “Texting-speak is not a mangled form of English that is degrading proper language but instead a kind of ‘pidgin’ language all its own that actually stretches teens’ language skills.”

Some educators go so far as to view texting as a language all its own.  The grammar and structure of passages are consistent.  In educator speak, when they’re abbreviating and making up words, they are paying attention to phonology.  Defined as the “systematic organization of sounds in languages,” phonology is imperative to our ability to read.

Don’t be so quick to take away the cell phone.  Of course, moderation is the key.  Otherwise, your child will do poorly in class, and you’ll find yourself HHIS.

Speaking of texting, send Miracle Math Coaching a text at 707-398-3474 if you’re looking for additional academic support for your student.  Or visit our website at

Or reach out the old-fashioned way, and call me at 707-398-3474, ext. 2700.  Miracle Math Coaching is an award-winning, student-focused service with a track record of boosting academic achievement. Most of all our center is filled with parents just like you that want to provide their student with the tools and support they need to be all they can be .

P.S. The text abbreviations I used were:

GMTA – Great minds think alike

FOMCL – Falling off my chair laughing

DUCWIM – Do you see what I mean?

HHIS – Hanging Head in Shame


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