The Pew Internet & American Life Project in conjunction with The National Commission on Writing has just released a report on influence of technology on teenagers’ writing. Quite a bit of the report was positive, some of the report confirmed what most practicing educators already know through observation, and parts of the report provides valuable insight into teenagers’ use of technology.
According to the report, Writing, Technology, and Teens 86% of teenagers believe that writing is essential or important to success in life. 83% of teens’ parents believe that there is a greater need to write well today as compared to twenty years ago. As an educator this is positive news as it reflects an acknowledgment by teens and parents that formal writing is important.
The finding that 64% of teens occasionally include text messaging short-hand in formal writing, will not come as a surprise to practicing educators. Likewise, the finding that 50% of teens sometimes use informal writing instead of proper capitalization and punctuation is not a surprise to most educators. 85% of teens use text messaging in some format either on a mobile phone or instant messaging service, but 60% of teens do not see text messaging or email as writing. The challenge here for educators is to lower the number of teens including text messaging short-hand in formal writing.
The report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project offers some good insights from teenagers on how technology can be used to improve writing. According to the report 82% or teens and think that more time and longer writing assignments would improve their writing. The report found that while most students did have to write in school everyday, most assignments were less than a page in length with many assignments being less than two paragraphs. 78% of teens feel that increased teacher use of computer applications (games, websites, multimedia) would improve writing education. Finally, the report found that students who blog are more prolific writers online and offline. Teens who blog are more likely to revise or edit their writing. As an educator these findings have a couple of implications. Student writing may be improved by longer assignments. Teachers in all content areas should consider incorporate blogging or writing for a wider audience as a means to increase the time students spend editing and improving their writing.
The entire report is available online from The Pew Internet & American Life Project. Any educator who incorporates writing into their classroom should read the report. The report is full of insightful information with many implications and applications for education.