This chapter contains the gathered researches from different sources. These studies will be used as a guide and support to our research. Our related literature starts with the importance of writing and language, and goes on with the possible effects that might happen to these when technology is being used extensively. On the later part of the chapter are the gathered articles and case studies done by various researchers.
Text Messaging Effects on Writing
Texting feature in mobile phones has become a “God’s gift” for most of the people. This feature made this communication very convenient to everyone. It has become an important part of the daily lives of people, especially to the Filipinos. According to AHN Media Corp (2010), the Philippines has been tagged as the “texting capital of the world”. Many Filipinos exchange text messages with the use of their mobile phones. People have become frequent texters, and they have started sending messages in shortened ways. This problem cropped up with the innovation of this new technology, and its possible effects on the students’ language proficiency.
The language proficiency of the students are important for effective communication. Language, according to McKee (1939), will successfully help people in different activities, which involve communication, various types of interaction, or even writing. Whether we are students or not, there is a need to use language appropriately. McKee goes on to say that the ability to write effectively is still important regardless of the influential and incredible effects of technology on man’s activities (p.3).
One of the most common issues of text messaging is its effects on education. Some educators say it is negatively affecting the spelling proficiency of the students. According to Dolch (1942), “Children must spell if they are to write”. When we write, we are really writing down our thoughts. These thoughts are expressed using words, and these words need to be spelled correctly. Therefore, writing would require appropriate spelling (p. 1).
Writing, in addition, is very important, because it is one form of communication. According to Shidle (1965), “writing skills are needed everywhere”. In his book The Art of Successful Communication, he states that it is hard to find works which no longer needs communicating skills. Anywhere, man can connect ideas through written communication, which exists in any level. Every person has the need to communicate effectively, and writing them down is one of the most efficient way (p. 11). Also, according to Quattrini (1985), the best way to show these ideas is through writing because it is like “shaping” what you are thinking. This “shaping” also includes choosing the right words for your thought (p. 2-3). These words would bring the message of your thoughts (Cruse, 2000).
Choosing the right words requires wide vocabulary. At the present, we are using English as our medium of communication; therefore, there is a need for us to be familiar with the English vocabulary. According to Gabiana’s research (as cited in Saga-Olis, 1998), students were very positive toward the English language as part of their system of education. This attitude of the respondents led to the conclusion that the students felt that language play an important role on their success in the future. The achievement of many professionals also lies on their ability to use the language appropriately. According to Mackay (as cited in Saga-Olis, 1998), professionals who master the English language tend to be successful and globally competitive (p. 42). This goes to show the importance of English as a medium of communicating internationally. The study of Enriquez and Nolasco (2007) also showed that a person who has a wide range of vocabulary might not have difficulties in thinking and communication. The two also added that vocabulary, spelling and grammar skills are the basic components of language which are very useful to a man’s life.
However, nowadays, there are educators who have been complaining on papers handed by their students. One of these educators is Kate Ross (2010), who stated that the use of cellular phones are affecting student’s spelling and grammar proficiency negatively, as evidenced from their use of abbreviated words. This resulted in extensive use of electronic chatting. The students are producing worse assignments, creating incorrect subject-verb agreements, and misspelling. Ross is an instructional coach for language arts teachers in her own district, and she often see shortened words or sentences in text messaging dialogues on students’ compositions. She said that this might have changed the attitude of the students towards writing, and it seemed that they want everything done as fast as possible. But before mobile phones became a problem to some, it used to be a connector between people.
Montiel and Estuar (2006) made a study about the usage of mobile phone nowadays. And they concluded that text messaging is the most effective way of communicating with other people. Aside from that, it is the fastest and the cheapest among the communication technologies of the new generation because of its sending shortened messages (SMS) or texting feature. This feature, allows people to communicate with each other regardless of how far they are from each other. Thus, this texting feature made mobile phones or cellular phones very popular in our country, that even the youth are getting hooked up to this new form of technology.
Estuar’s research (2003) showed that there is a high rate of ownership and high rate of usage of cellular phones regardless of what school or gender the students belong. “Private school students were more frequent users of cost-incurring features, whereas public school students were more frequent users of no-cost features of mobile phones”. The former also have a higher rate of texting compared to their public school counter parts. In addition, the number of days one can survive without a cellular phone or without having to exchange messages is higher among males and public school students (p.103). This goes to show that cellular phones are very popular, regardless of the age.
An example that would show the rapidly growing popularity of cellular phones is the report from Sify News (as cited in Proysen, 2009) about a 13-year old girl from California who had sent 14, 528 messages in a month (13, January 2009).
These communication gadgets are used by adolescents not only for communication purposes but also for maintaining their relationships with other people. Cell phones provide them the ability to show who they are and to express what they feel through texting feature. According to Pertierra et al. (as cited in Estuar, 2003), the cellular phone is like an extension or an expression of one’s self. Compared to other forms of communication that the new world offers like the telephones and electronic mail, mobile phone technology greatly augments the non-confrontational nature of Filipinos. As what is said earlier, in texting, people can send messages to a person even without knowing where the person is, what the person is doing, and who the person is with. “The mobile phone’s predecessor regular telephones require a fixed location for their use. But with the cellular phone, being primarily mobile, people can now establish contact with another person, regardless of where the caller and the called are” (p. 104) .
According to Estuar et al. (2006), aside from the internet, mobile phones were used in “pro-democracy movements”. Mobile phones were relatively cheaper and more affordable and accessible, especially to a larger group of people belonging to the poorer groups in the society. The mobile phone made communication so easy and possible regardless of time and space barriers by increasing its utility in “political mobilizations and mass persuasions”. As evidenced from the Philippines, for example, optimal use of mobile phone’s texting capability helped in bringing down a corrupt president through the People Power II that occurred last 2001. According to Villamor (as cited in Estuar, 2003), by using the cellular phones, rally organizers have united and mobilized the crowds in front of the historic Edsa Shrine just an hour after the Senate have vetoed the opening of the bank evidence against the supposed-to-be reigning president Estrada (p. 105).
Estuar et al. also said that during those historical moments, the use of cellular phones had filtered through Filipinos’ everyday life, especially to the youth and Metro Manilans. Texting through mobile phones as a new technology hence played a vital role in the swift alignment of political consciousness, especially among the multitude of young Filipino people.
Pertierra, Ugarte, Pingal, Hernandez and Dacanay (as cited in Estuar, 2003), wrote an all-inclusive account of the social consequences of commonness in mobile phone use in the Philippines, with the conclusion that “cellphones have become a major icon in Philippine life, in that it has extended the scope of social relationships” (p. 149). And from 1994 to 2002, “cellphones in the Philippines were mainly used for texting” (p. 150).
Because cellular phones became a popular icon in the world, several consequences were prophesied. Some of these are the increased number of people who are fascinated with the features of cellular phones, particularly its texting feature. Some were obsessed that they allot greater time for text messaging, which leads to the use of shorthand method of texting, and will eventually contribute in the deterioration of the students’ spelling and grammar skills. But is there truth to these claims?
Russell (2010) stated that there are different effects of frequent text messaging. He cited an educator in Edutopia.org saying that “I teach 9th and 11th English, and regardless of the age, my students’ spelling is atrocious. Texting does not and has not helped”. Some teachers believed that shorthand texting is killing the English language because students have been writing compositions in bad spelling and grammar (parag. 2-3).
Russell also said that some teachers, on the other hand, took it as a positive effect. According to the teachers, because of texting and other ways of communicating, students have started to write and edit more text (parag. 4). Lee (as cited in Proysen, 2009) also said that some teachers encourage their students to use instant messaging if it really helps them develop creativity when writing. Others also think that texting has no effect on English grammar. Students may learn the language of texting, but they too, should not forge that the language of texting is different form the English language, and that shorthand texting is different from the correct English grammar (parag. 5).
Recent news from United Kingdom reports about a Scottish pupil who submitted an essay in shorthand form like texting. According to Cramb (as cited in Pryosen, 2009), this is because of frequent use of mobile phones and text messaging. The student said she found it “easier than standard English”. The Scottish Qualifications Authority said that “text messaging language was inappropriately used” (parag. 4). Gillespie (as cited in Proysen, 2009), the Scottish Teacher Parent Council, said that the deterioration in spelling and grammar proficiency of the student is an effect of frequent text messaging. She went on to say that:
There must be rigorous efforts from all quarters of the education system to stamp out the use of texting as a form of written language so far as English study is concerned. There has been a trend in recent years to emphasis spoken English. Pupils think orally and write phonetically. You would be shocked at the numbers of senior secondary pupils who cannot distinguish between their and there. The problem is that there is a feeling in some schools that pupils' freedom of expression should not be inhibited (as cited in Proysen, 2009).
Edwards (2009) said that texting contributes to peoples’ indolence when it comes to writing. In his own experience, he himself developed changes on his writing abilities ever since he engaged in text messaging. According to him, it helps in speeding up communication. And because of frequent usage of shortened messages in texting, it becomes a “habit”. He sometimes caught himself using the shorthand method of writing even in doing his projects in school, which goes to show that text messaging has really affected his writing ability. When he researched in the internet, he discovered that many people also believed that texting affects the writing skills of students. Edwards always feel that using the “original way” of writing when doing his school projects is more difficult than using the “text messaging language”. Because of this, he became lazier. He also said that most people are hooked up to texting that they send text messages even when they’re doing several activities like driving, when in a funeral, or in a graduation ceremony. But according to Guerra (2007), although most of the people are frequent texters, not all of them apply shorthand texting when writing. She said that students say it does affect their writing proficiency, and some say it has no impact at all. Nevertheless, texting is still a problem to most people.
Like Guerra, Laurilla (2009) obtained varied facts from her research titled A Preliminary Investigation on the Linguistic Aspects of Text Messaging. She implied that the use of mobile phones are common to the younger sector of the society (p. 9). Report from “Media use statistics” said that almost two-thirds of the teenagers today are cellular phone owners (as cited in Laurilla, 2009). The youths are expected to be frequent texters, since they grew along the modernization and technological innovation of cellular phones. Because of this, “There is a raging national debate about the state of writing and how high-tech communication by teens might be affecting their ability to think and write” (Guerra, 2008, parag. 1). This research by De La Salle University-Manila’s Department of English and Applied Linguistics (DEAL) Assistant Professor Nudred-Laurilla found that there is no significant effect and difference between the spelling and grammar efficiency of students who own cellular phones and those who don’t. And from that, it can be implied that the respondent’s proficiency when it comes to spelling and grammar, is independent to whether they have cellular phones or not. Also, among owners of cellular phones, their frequent text messaging does not affect their spelling and grammar proficiency (p.11).
Aside from Laurilla, a research on the use of the shorthand method of texting was conducted by Tiempo (2006). He said that another form of communication in texting is code-switching. This is common to a number of Cebuano people. Tiempo says that code switching is a natural bilingual behavior that usually happens in any informal conversations, whether it is direct or indirect. Through his qualitative method of analysis, this study of Tiempo titled Cebuano Code Switching, Text Jargon, and Fricative Production in Short Messaging Services (SMS) found that there is no significant differences between the texting styles of both males and females (p. 74-75).
Another research on the use of the shorthand method of texting by Banton et al. (2010) said that same assumptions rose about the negative claims on text messaging. Banton with his group researchers conducted a study by giving out a pre-survey on those students who were cellular phone owners and non-owners and their daily time allotment for cellular phone use. After that was the spelling and grammar tests given the 3rd year high school students of St. Paul’s School of Ormoc Foundation Inc. The research resulted with the following: Students who had greater time allotment for text messaging had lower average scores compared to those who were not frequent texters at all. Among cellular phone owners, those who were frequent users of shorthand method of texting appeared to have poorer scores in both spelling and grammar tests (p.29).
Similarly, a research by Rosen et al. (2009) showed that youths who used shorthand texting (LOL, gudnyt, etc.) in everyday writing developed the worse formal writing than those youths who rarely used shorthand texts. Those who used shorthand texts for communication were better “informal” writers.
Unlike Rosen et al.’s research, the study conducted by Tomita (2009) about text messaging gathered a different result. On Tomita’s research titled Text Messaging and its Implications for its use in Education, he said that the world is becoming more technologically advanced, together with the rapid improvement of the world. And with these, the students have to adjust and cope with the changes on their own. His study found that “text messaging tools provide an effective means of teaching students important 21st century skills”. Furthermore, Plester (as cited in Tomita, 2009) said that tools like the Web enhances students ability to write, encourages them to make interactions, and motivating them to become good communicators because it helps develop the students’ creativity. In addition, Tomita also stated that literacy is not limited only to paper works, but also to digital literacy (p. 189).
Critics are very particular on the issue about the use of shortened words especially when it comes to education. According to Shaughnessy (as cited in Tomita, 2009), to overcome the character limit of 160 characters, people use jargons, codes, or shorten the words. This form of communication is too easy that it no longer require analysis. In addition, O’Connor (as cited in Tomita, 2009) said that if students continue to use instant messaging, the more that they could no longer distinguish formal and informal writing. Others also use acronyms and other abbreviations (O’Connor, 2005). But still, Goldstein and Gardner (as cited in Tomita, 2009) believe that formal writing is far different from informal writing, no matter what the medium is.
Others also disagree with the negative effect of text messaging. Petrillo (2006) quoted Dr. Beverly Plester, “Newer research shows a stronger casual relationship between text abbreviations and literacy skills”. Plester here is saying that text messaging is giving an exposure to the written words, which relates to a higher literacy attainment. In addition, according to Helderman (2003), Gloria Jobobs, a doctoral student studying the relationship of teenagers and instant messaging, said that students are fluent with online writing, so probably it could help them improve their writing ability.
In contrary to the conclusion derived from Petrillo and Helderman’s studies, Baron (as cited in Proysen, 2009) concluded that the language of “text messaging and electronic communication” has triggered the rise of evils that would be unleashed by text messaging, such as the deterioration of spelling and grammar skills, and its application on the writings of the students. In Proysen’s study titled The Impact of Text Messaging on Standard English revealed that some educators have been indicating that text messaging has created a reflection on the students’ school papers. According to Crystal (as cited in Proysen, 2009), one example was found, which was an essay composition entirely written in shorthand form. This study of Proysen was conducted to find out whether the claims on the negative effects of text messaging is true. His study found out that these negative effects seem to have affected some of the respondents. Some students are not aware that they are carrying the text messaging language onto their writing. While some of them said it was stupid enough not to know the difference between Standard English and text abbreviations. According to Crystal (as cited in Proysen, 2009), “Expertise in text messaging and email in particular would appear to have affected spelling and punctuation” (p. 83). Text messaging with its use of phonetic spelling and little or no punctuation, seems to pose a threat to traditional conventions in writing (p. 84). Proysen went on to say that the text messaging phenomenon had a great impact on people’s everyday use of language although it gained popularity for a very short time. Proysen was sure of one thing. As his fieldwork shows, text messaging created negative effects, whether it is slight or great (p.86). This conclusion of Proysen was similar to one of Myhra’s articles titled Negative Effects of Texting in the Classroom.
Myhra (2010) believed that people of the present generation have grown advanced together with the innovation of technology, specifically the cellular phone, which is said to have affected the students’ spelling and grammar proficiency. People have started sending messages in abbreviated or shortened form. Students who are frequent “texters” have developed a new form of writing that is unacceptable to school-related works (parag. 1). He added that students are no longer practicing the proper use of punctuation, and upper and lowercase letters (parag. 3).
Myhra (2010) concluded that frequent sending of text messages could affect the students’ way of writing. Students have developed the habit of writing in shorthand form, which caused them to write informally. Texting has affected the students writing and grammar proficiency negatively (parag. 9).
This research gives more focus on the students’ use of the shorthand method of texting, which they sometimes tend to apply on their school works. This research will serve as a point of reflection for the students, to discover whether text messaging and the use of abbreviations or jargons could positively or negatively affect their spelling and grammar proficiency. The various researches we have gathered from different sources are composed of numerous ideas that led us to the formulation of different assumptions about the use of shorthand texting. Its only difference from our research is that our study will also focus on the frequency of cellular phone use, which was given less focus on other researches.
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