You only have to drive 20 yards down the road before you come across a teenager either talking on their mobile or texting and downloading information from another world onto their latest mobile gadget. There’s an app for this and there’s an app for that. You will struggle to find a teenager who will leave home without their mobile or cell phone, whatever you wish to call it, and you will struggle even further to find a teenager who does not own a mobile phone.
Texting has become a frightening obsession for many young people and has seemingly become their primary means of communication with their friends and even family. They live in a world where everything has to be relayed instantly and without the need to raise a voice or look someone in the eye.
Two teenagers in the same room, the same class, the same train will think nothing of sending one another a text to let each other know how they are feeling, where to meet or what they did the night before – not giving a it a second thought that they could just as easily greet one another with a friendly smile and speak to each other.
It has become socially unacceptable for teenagers not to own a mobile phone. They communicate with one another on a level that has created a sub culture and a language which can only be understood by them. Having said that, twenty or so years ago, teenagers had their own sub language in the spoken form anyway because teenagers need to set themselves apart from their elders and exist in a world which is exclusive to them.
Now, even text language has evolved and divided into sub languages over the last ten years. What was once ‘cool’ to type on text or email is now just ‘so last year’ and it has moved on. There are levels of texting within texting and it has developed into its own language with its own etiquette.
Levels of literacy and numeracy are reportedly poor in teens. You don’t need statistics to point out these facts – you need only spend a few hours with a group of teenagers to realise that they place importance on other things. Whilst able to design a perfect power point presentation with spectacular graphics, using a pre-packaged suite on a well-known platform, teens seem unable to find the time to check their work for such things as spelling, grammar and so on. The basics are most definitely dead. With so many people arguing that there is no longer a need for a person to be able to spell for themselves because of spell checkers and predictive text, it seems that teenagers continue in ignorant bliss as to the detrimental effects that texting is having on them and the long term effects of society. We are even breeding a generation of teachers who aren’t able to correct their pupils’ work because they often don’t know any different either.
Using text language means that teenagers are losing their ability to communicate effectively and articulately with others of all age groups and retain information for any length of time because they are no longer required to. Why retain something that is at your predisposal on a saved artificial memory? Learning the basic skills of life in the forms of literacy, numeracy, communication and the art of social interaction seem to be less and less fashionable and worryingly considered less and less important. What a shame that it is only like to become worse before it becomes any better.