Why texting is not necessarily detrimental to your writing

Find a teenager and you’ll find someone staring down at a small screen.

The days of people communicating face-to-face seem to be over, or at least, waning. Texting is the new conversation vehicle, and it is not limited to teenagers and 20-somethings. We all do it. When I was in journalism school, I was taught something very basic about the art of writing. If you want to write better, then write more. The more you practice something, the better you’ll get at it. This applies not only to writing, but to almost everything.

We all know the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell in which he makes the case that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to get really good at something. He cites the Beatles having played for 10,000 hours sharpening their skills before becoming the sensation they became. Of course he doesn’t talk about the other bands who also practiced for 10,000 hours and went into obscurity. I guess talent also plays a role. Since texting is so prevalent among young people, many have wondered whether the abbreviations and bad grammar inherent in texting will cause young people to be poor writers. It is one thing to not practice writing, yet another to write poorly on a screen. After all, friends don’t judge their friend’s grammar so there is no incentive to text with proper language and grammar.

But is texting detrimental to good writing? Recent research has indicated no. One need only look at the competitiveness of getting into college to see that young people understand that when it counts, they know how to write. It seems that young people have a writing schism. They write one way when texting and another when it matters. So parents don’t fear. When your child needs to complete a college application or resume for that first job, they’ll understand that rules were meant to be broken when texting. And not when it matters.