Home Researchers Say the Social Web Improves Kids’ Literacy (Geeks Say ‘Duh’)

Researchers Say the Social Web Improves Kids’ Literacy (Geeks Say ‘Duh’)

According to a recent survey of around 3,000 kids, those who text, blog and use social sites such as Facebook have better writing skills than their less technologically inclined counterparts.

This hardly comes as a surprise to us tech geeks who spent our younger days alternating between writing critical theses on esoteric forums and getting assaulted by grammar Nazis on said forums. Although we may take it for granted that voluminous written communication online builds writing skills, others decry the lack of formality in most tween and teen lexicons. Is “text speak” as much a concern as enhanced writing skills are a benefit?

Of the children surveyed – a group of 3,001 young people between the ages of 9 and 16 – 24 percent maintained a personal blog and 82 percent regularly sent text messages. Seventy-three percent used IM clients to chat online.

When researchers asked the children to rate their writing skills, 47 percent of those who were non-bloggers and didn’t use social networking sites said that their writing skills were good. The online set projected higher levels of confidence; of those who maintained blogs, 61 percent said their writing was good or very good.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, told BBC News, “Our research suggests a strong correlation between kids using technology and wider patterns of reading and writing.”

He continued to say that online engagement can lead to offline creativity, such as story writing and song composition.

And what about the “LOL OMG c u l8r” informality of text and chat communiqués?

“Our research results are conclusive,” said Douglas. “The more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills.” Or at least, the more children are accustomed to using the written word, the more confident and comfortable they will be with written communication in general.

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