Education Transforms symposium hears from UTAS expert Dr Nenagh Kemp on the impacts of texting | take our quiz

LITERACY: Dr Nenagh Kemp presented on digital literacy at the UTAS Education Transforms symposium in Hobart. Picture: Peter Mathew
LITERACY: Dr Nenagh Kemp presented on digital literacy at the UTAS Education Transforms symposium in Hobart. Picture: Peter Mathew

Does texting help or hinder student with their literacy and numeracy? The answer may surprise you.

An education forum in Hobart has heard from digital literacy expert Nenagh Kemp about the pitfalls and benefits texting has on students.

Texting could be creating a literacy issue for children who already have difficulty withe reading and writing but it could lead to those who are competent to write creatively.

For those who already find reading and writing a challenge, texting presents a new set of written language patterns that could prove difficult, Dr Kemp said.

“It is a bit of a paradox because for children who are already good at reading and writing it [texting] seems to help them get even better, because they get to practice reading and writing more, and more creatively, and for kids that otherwise wouldn’t be reading and writing a lot, it can help them too,” she said.

Think you are a whiz at ‘textese’ or text language? Take our quiz below to see if you know these common phrases:

“But for those who already find reading and writing a challenge, having to deal with a new set of written language patterns, however unconventional, can bring the stress of school-based literacy activities to social interactions as well.”

Dr Kemp is a senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania who said the rise of ‘textese’ and other texting communication tools could leave the writer with social capital.

“Being competent at composing digital messages can make the writer look cool or clever. Getting the writing style not quite right can encourage others to form negative opinions of the writer,” she said.

“They might be excluded from a quick-fire, fun conversation. They might not get invited into these social worlds of digital communication because they can’t respond as rapidly and they can’t be as witty as others.

“It would be like being in a foreign country where you can’t join in as much because you are not as fluent in the language as other people.”

Dr Kemp said children who found reading and writing a challenge were also dealing with the confusion created by switching between textese and formal writing styles.

“Maybe it is more difficult for them to separate when to write formally and when to write informally, and teachers and many adults might be judgmental that the way they write represents the way they think,” she said.

Dr Kemp presented at to Education Transforms 2017, which is the second international symposium at the Peter Underwood Centre.