You know, I’m a little bit late on this one but I couldn’t help but pen a response to the piece on the Daily Beast called, “Texting Makes U Stupid. This is a silly argument that we see resurface every couple months and I really want to smack it down. Texting will NOT make U stupid.
The specious argument goes like this:
According to a survey carried out last year by Nielsen, Americans between the ages of 13 and 17 send and receive an average of 3,339 texts per month. Teenage girls send and receive more than 4,000.
Half of today’s teenagers don’t read books—except when they’re made to. According to the most recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, the proportion of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 who read a book not required at school or at work is now 50.7 percent, the lowest for any adult age group younger than 75, and down from 59 percent 20 years ago.
Obviously, texting is to blame. Well, it is if you’re an old man who wants these kids to stop texting on your lawn.
Every younger generation seems to be doomed according to an older one and it’s likely some form of technology that is a sign of the apocalypse. If it’s not texting, it’s rock and roll, video games or the Internet. It’s true that texting has exploded and reading of traditional books has gone down among today’s teenagers and youths.
Kids today are probably reading, writing and expressing themselves far more than any generation before but it’s not in the traditional means and that can be scary for people. Teens may not be reading books but they’re consuming way more text than previous generations via the Internet and they’re writing and connecting more with their peers and others via texting.
This connecting is a fundamental need for all people but especially teenagers. I didn’t have a cell phone in high school but I remember that I’d still be on the landlines (remember those) talking to friends, trying to spit game at ladies and generally trying to connect with my peers. That has been true ever since there were teenagers and you can be sure that if teens in the past had the capabilities, they’d be sending out texts to go to the disco, talk about the latest Beatles album or invite gals to the sock hop.
I write for a living, so I understand the people who primarily hate this texting generation because of the lack of proper grammar and spelling. Yes, emoticons make me sick and writing “see you” shouldn’t take that much longer than “C U” but that’s just a natural part of lingual evolution. You may not like that “retweet,” “sexting” and “woot” are now in the dictionary but you can’t go back in time.
The article goes on to say that this lack of reading, which is caused by texting, is an issue because it makes the next generation ill-prepared for the workforce. I’m not going to deny that reading comprehension is important and that the American education system may be falling behind in an increasingly globalized workforce that is going to be more competitive with each passing minute but blaming the technology is counterproductive. Besides, if you don’t think that the kids in India, China and Brazil are texting just as much or more than American teens, then you’re just not dealing with reality.
Instead, we should be embracing mobile technology and how it can aid the educational process. Things like tablets, smartphones and applications can actually play a strong role in mobile learning to open up education in a way where it’s not as dependent on location. Embracing mobile technology in education is by no means a panacea but it’s better than sitting on the sidelines with your arms crossed and complaining about these kids today.
We all have our role to play if we really want to address this issue. If you want teens and kids to have a healthy interest in traditional reading, that starts with the parents. We should have a stronger emphasis on literature comprehension, as well as science and engineering but that’s going to involve a national push in our society which places a stronger emphasis on education and training.
Like all of us, teens are going to face an increasingly difficult world but texting is not the problem and it’s childish to say that it is.