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Technology's Negative Impact on Student Writing

written by: Lady Lit • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 1/5/2012

This article discusses how technology, primarily texting, has negatively influenced students' writing skills, and offers advise on what particular weaknesses students may have developed that you will need to work on correcting in your classroom.

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    “I wanna go u wanna go 2?" Now, this gibberish is easy enough to understand and requires one to type less, but the problem is that students are not adept enough at knowing where informal writing ends and formal writing begins.

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    Today's Tech-Savvy Society

    The most alarming trend concerning the impact of technology on students involves poor formal writing skills. This is due in large part to the society in which we live.

    Texting on cellular phones has had a detrimental effect on student’s writing. Although communicating via text messages is a fabulous way to stay in touch, this seemingly coded short-hand that students use while texting, has surfaced in their formal writing, in their essays, and in their research papers.

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    Mechanics Meltdown

    For the most part, students have no idea that contractions do not belong in formal writing, and that to be considered a contraction, a word has to include an apostrophe, which typically replaces a letter or two. I inform my students to avoid contractions in their writing, and someone always responds, “What’s a contraction?" To no avail. I am not surprised, but I rather expect some student to comment.

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    Personal Pronoun "I" is Capitalized?

    Not only is this affecting usage skills, but students have no idea that the personal pronoun “I" is supposed to be capitalized when it is used. Another common mistake that is closely related to capitalizing the personal pronoun, is the capitalization of first letters of the first word that begins sentences.This emanates from students who do not take the time to properly capitalize their letters when they are texting because it takes too much time.

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    Lack of Punctuation

    Another negative effect that texting is having on students is the lack of punctuation. Now, punctuation is limited on cellular device keypads, but to students, the punctuation that appears is nonexistent. If they are not going to take the time to capitalize letters, they certainly are not going to take the time to punctuate their sentences. The result is that students are so used to texting that when they must complete a formal writing assignment for their English class, they can not transition between formal and informal writing. The result is that students just run together their sentences and phrases, thus omitting proper punctuation.

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    Texting Makes Teaching Tough

    Now, I realize that text messaging is not solely responsible for this shortcoming, but emailing, internet searches, and instant messaging have all contributed to the demise of students' writing abilities. Such technological innovations are useful, but for teachers, it makes them work twice as hard.

    One solution to this problem is to address the impact of technology on students before each formal writing assignment and emphasize the need to write differently in different circumstances.

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