How big of an impact does texting and IMing have on SDSU students?

Julie Frank

Julie Frank

More often than not, the first thing students do when coming out of class is whip out their cell phones. If they are not talking to their mom or friends, they are thumbing away at the keys.

In the past couple of years, text messaging has taken on a life of its own. A new vocabulary has been created that is not only being written, but is finding its way into the spoken language and mainstream media (remember Cingular’s “idk my bff Jill” commercial?).

“It’s an easy way to communicate,” said Whitney Harris, a pre-pharmacy major, about text messaging.

Amanda Hausladen, also a pre-pharmacy major, text messages because it is quicker than calling and convenient.

However, with the increase in text messaging, could the decrease in the use of vowels and punctuation be leaking into students’ academic performance?

“I think that more than texting, people are not reading enough,” said English professor Kathleen Danker, who believes text messaging has not affected students’ work. She said reading helps students spell better.

English graduate student Nancy Preteau taught four sections of English Composition 101 last school year. She agrees with Danker, and admits even though a few students spelled you as “u” and because as “b/c” in their diagnostic essays, they only improved from there.

Students also believe this popular form of communication does not change the quality of their work. Biology majors Ayisha McDonough, Jamie Metcalje and James Redfern admit they catch themselves mixing text messaging abbreviations in their homework now and then. Harris also finds herself putting dot, dot, dot when wanting to place a pause in a paper.

Senior English education major, Noelle Thompson, said she chooses to write out words to avoid the habit of writing like most people text message. She said it is a conscience thing and allows her to be thorough.

“I always write it out,” pre-pharmacy major Chelsey Kisse added. “I don’t know if people understand (what is being said).”

Text messaging (and instant messaging) language is a type of argot, a type of slang used by insiders to keep outsiders out, that is rapidly changing, according to John Taylor. Taylor is an English professor who teaches the Development of the English Language, available for enrollment this spring semester.

“To be an educated person, you should have more than one style of writing,” he said. Students should know the appropriate time to use formal English, such as in class assignments, on a resume or at a professional job, and when it is okay to use improper English, like in text messaging.

“Because you IM doesn’t make you stupid, but if you think all there is to life is IMing, well that’s not a very intelligent attitude,” he said.

Taylor said he has seen an increase of students using less commas and confusing words for others, but also believes text messaging has not affected students’ writing abilities.

Whether text messaging impacts students’ academic performances is not the only question. Is it okay for students to text message in class?

“It’s up to them if they want to text or listening,” said McDonough.

Harris added she believes it is okay because students pay for the class, and as long as it does not interrupt other students.