Parentline Plus

Study Suggests Using Slang Might Not Harm Language Abilities

March 23, 2009 01:19 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A recent study indicates that using slang in text messages doesn't necessarily affect kids' language and spelling abilities.

Texting Slang

Earlier this month, results from an experiment testing 88 grade-school students on their language skills and found that using slang in text messaging had little effect on their language skills, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

Students were asked to write responses to situations like asking a friend what to wear to a party, and researchers recorded how often they used a "textism," such as "2nite" instead of "tonight," in their answer.

Results from the study, conducted by researchers from England's Coventry University, were published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology. Kids who participated did not display a weakened spelling ability because they used textisms. In fact, they generally scored better on word-based learning and vocabulary.

For parents concerned about the effects using slang will have on their children, the study indicates that kids are "actually being artful," according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Teenagers have used slang for generations, mostly to stand out, but also to fit into a peer group, Kathleen Waldron, a professor at Arizona State University, explained to The Arizona Republic in 2006.

But that doesn't mean adults shouldn't know what their kids are talking about either. "You should try to know it, so when you hear them talking, and you think it's innocent, but it's really about a drug deal, you'll be clued in," Waldron cautioned.
Gregory Pollack, a psychotherapist who specializes in addiction at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, explained to WebMD. “It’s very important that parents brush up on ... slang, because just like with text messaging, kids use all these abbreviations and parents don’t know what they mean. But the more they understand what these things mean, the more they will be able to monitor kids’ behavior,” Pollock explains.

WebMD also provides online dictionaries of teenage terminology. One of the site’s dictionaries translates slang words or abbreviations submitted by teenagers. Another list of drug slang clarifies the terms teens use to refer to prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs, as well as their effects.

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Background: Slang dictionary

In 2008, Parentline Plus, a parental charity in Britain, launched an online dictionary of teen slang on its Web site, GotATeenager.

The site was created in response to the more than 50,000 calls received by the Parentline Plus hotline in a year from concerned parents regarding teenage drug use, drinking, discipline issues and gang culture.

The dictionary is wiki-based and welcomes entries from parents and teens. By keeping contributions open, organizers make available the most up-to-date slang and jargon. To ensure that terms are submitted accurately, a group of parent and teenage “stakeholders” edit new entries.

Related Topics: Slang, teenage communication and technology


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