Cell phones make kids faster, dumber

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed Aug 12 15:27:42 UTC 2009

Actually, the data shows exactly the opposite. Children and teens who text a
lot tend to have higher than average verbal skills. And most actual text
messages (as opposed to those created as "examples" in news stories) use
scrupulous spelling and punctuation. Where abbreviations are used, they tend
to be used in contexts where the sender is certain the receiver will
understand or as wordplay.

This link between texting and verbal abilities may only be correlative, not
causative. Those who text a lot may do so because they are verbally
oriented, not because texting improves their ability (although I wouldn't be
surprised if it had a beneficial effect).

See Crystal's _Txtng: The Gr8 Db8_ for an excellent summary of the issue
with citations to relevant research.

Don't take things for granted. Gastroenterologists "knew" that acidic foods
caused ulcers and dermatologists knew that chocolate and fried food caused
acne. Astronomers "knew" the sun revolved around the earth--isn't it
obvious, just look at a sunrise! Linguists shouldn't jump to similar
conclusions in their own field without firm evidence. We need more "teams"
examining the validity of basic assumptions.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Doug Harris
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:58 AM
Subject: Re: Cell phones make kids faster, dumber

Can't access your web page, Dennis, but I'm wondering...
did it _really_ take a "team" of any sort to verify that (texting
is 'counter intelligence')?
Not that spelling in the younger generation(s) wasnt' bad
enough already, texting has most certainly accentuated
that problem, too.
A young woman I know, 24 this month, a grad school education
student (and with a year of high school teaching under belt,
not only spells horribly, she seems not in the least concerned
about how inaccurate she is.
Watt, im wondrng, is the wurld comming too?

Prepared and sent with Chaos Software's Intellect mail client.
Intellect's contacts and appointments managers also are cool.

----- Original message ----------------------------------------
From: "Dennis Baron" <debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU>
Received: 8/12/2009 10:34:45 AM
Subject: Cell phones make kids faster, dumber

>There's a new post on the Web of Language:  Cell phones make kids
>faster, dumber

>Last year the Librarian of Congress warned that texting was
>responsible for a drastic decline in American sentences, but that
>opinion wasn't backed up by any scientific evidence. Now, a team of
>Australian psychologists has come a step closer to proving that mobile
>phones are destroying our ability to think. The researchers show that
>children who use mobile phones respond to higher-level cognitive tasks
>faster, but less accurately, than those who don't.

>Read the rest of the post on the Web of Language:

>You can now subscribe to Web of Language posts -- just click the
>"subscribe" link on the website.

>Dennis Baron
>Professor of English and Linguistics
>Department of English
>University of Illinois
>608 S. Wright St.
>Urbana, IL 61801

>office: 217-244-0568
>fax: 217-333-4321


>read the Web of Language:

>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list