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Is Technology Changing the Way People Write?

technology writing

The times are ever-changing and so is technology. With new technological standards revolutionizing our way of life on a daily basis, computers of all types (tablets, laptops, smartphones, etc.) are becoming integrated into many of our daily activities. Not only is it becoming more common to be able to pay for goods and services on an iPad-or even an advanced smartphone with a card reader device. Portable computers are also making their way into classrooms of all academic levels.

Computers have become an integrated part of many aspects of our everyday lives, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are now accessible through our pockets. A mobile device is essentially a computer with a different user interface. The nice thing about computers is that it’s most basic function, in essence, is to artificially think and compute, hence it’s name. Naturally, the evolution of the room-sized calculator from the mid-20th century would make for a much more advanced and sophisticated machine later on. Also, it was only a matter of time before the popularity, portability, and high functionality of this concept would keep consistently reaching remarkable highs, thus causing it to become used.

Computers & Tablets in the Classroom Setting

Even though PCs and Macintosh computers have always been among the most popular earlier computer options, their portable counterparts have not always been a part of a typical classroom setting. In fact, the use of tablets to take notes, complete homework assignments or access vital course material online is an up-and-coming concept that has only begun to take off in this decade. As neat as all of the new technologies of this time are, they seem to be taking a toll on the writing standards and abilities of people who have been born right into

As someone who completed most of their schooling in the 2000’s, I have only had the luxury of regularly taking class notes via a tablet or laptop in my college days. Cell phones weren’t even a common everyday necessity until the middle of the decade. Even then, phones of that time weren’t the miniaturized tablets (smartphones) that most of us carry in our pockets today. Still, computers themselves have been an academic standard to some degree for over 25 years. Scholars, especially high school and college-aged ones, have been interacting with technology for long enough that it has been gradually changing the standards of more than just how schoolwork is being done.

Speaking of cell phones and academics, a recent trend has begun to develop in the classroom setting over the past decade, especially in lower academic institutions like high schools and community post-secondary schools. As much as I would like to say I was joking about it, I’m not, sadly. According to a story from US News, texting lingo terms (SMH, LOL, etc.) are making their way onto the papers of essays and other coursework written by these young “scholars.”

You can read the US News story about how texting slang and social media is proving to be detrimental to studies here.

While this by itself it probably is seen minimally on coursework, this is just a part of a bigger trend affecting the academic success (as well as the definition of “success”) of people who participate heavily in social media and other newer communication mediums. It has also gone to show that punctuation and grammatical precision are becoming obsolete with the development of this generation of teens and young adults. It has also been noted that a lot of words are abbreviated and punctuation is used much less nowadays. Coincidentally, we are living in a time where it is becoming more common to communicate through technological mediums.

If used correctly, however, using mobile devices can be used to enhance academic experiences. Some teachers have given permission to pupils to use their devices within reason. This article from nea.org tells of a teacher who allows his students to use their mobile smart-devices. As a means of learning and maintaining productivity in their studies. There are actually plenty of resources to be used in a mobile device, provided that we’re talking about a “smart” one. These include iPhones, Androids, etc. This idea seems pretty practical considering that over 58% of teenagers owned smartphones in 2012. That was four years ago when the concept was still relatively fresh. In 2016, it’s almost certain that this statistic has risen.

Not only can mobile devices provide organization and tools via basic smartphone apps such as planners and calculators, but there are plenty of applications designed specifically to teach and make lessons fun for the user. While this particular program covers much more than just writing and punctuation skills, Byju’s learning app has mini-lessons that are very straightforward, taught using innovative and interesting methods. These methods make the learning experience fun and easy to comprehend. The teachers of the application are all based out of India, but they speak fluent English that any native speaker would be able to comprehend, especially with the graphics that they provide.

Still, while there are plenty of useful and educational tools readily available to scholars of all academic backgrounds, the undeniable fact still remains that most people don’t usually use such programs and functions unless they’re required to per classroom curriculum. While it might seem like a possibility in the near future, it’s not likely that the majority of classrooms implement the use of mobile technology as a requirement for a course. As such, it’s only natural that mobile device users (including myself) have their minds set on their own endeavors, especially through Angry Birds, YouTube videos, and social media.

While the main idea of websites like Facebook is to share ideas, an idea can take any form. Usually, these said forms are rarely in the form of original, typed-out thoughts. Nowadays, “memes”, pictures and videos are becoming the new mediums of self-expression. If you pay attention to your news feed, you might find that many of your friends may not pay much mind to their grammatical or punctuation abilities. In all fairness, these things would probably seem like the least important part of posting if you’re speaking your mind to friends. But between the lack of necessity for typing and just simply not caring to be grammatically correct to friends, constant use of social media has definitely increased alongside the negative academic trends that we talked about.

Aside from social media gradually becoming a replacement for social skills, it has also left an impression of what’s acceptable to the present generation of young adults. Writing abilities of young people are certainly declining and punctuation is becoming less used properly, but many of us still know where to draw the line in certain aspects.

As a generation that grew up with Facebook and texting, the lingo and methods (or lack thereof) associated with them have become the norm for this demographic. According to a blog post on Dictionary.com, most people in this age group may use various slang and abbreviations in their written communication, but most of them have enough common sense to not laugh out loud or shake their head when writing an essay. This doesn’t change the decrease in writing quality that has been becoming more and more common over time, though. As stated in the post from dictionary.com, it was once fashionable to speak like we write, and now it’s the other way around.

English Changing from the Technology World

Words, phrases, and mannerisms that we use daily have changed along with the times that they coincide with. In times where computerized technology wasn’t necessary to live life, the acceptable forms of speaking and writing were slightly different also. This article from the Linguistic Society sums up what I’m talking about perfectly, just not in a technological context. The evolution of any language corresponds to the verbal needs of the users of the time. Because of the integration of communicating via various forms of computers, the needs of our modern day English language have ceased. This is definitely another contributing factor to the declining academic performance of young people.

Ultimately, the implementation of new technologies in the classroom is a two-sided debate. On one hand, the new ways of communication are causing the deterioration (or evolution, depending on where you stand) of our language and the declining performance of people preparing and enrolling in higher learning programs. On the other hand, computers are enabling and inspiring people to do exactly what they intended to do with the original concept: think, compute information and learn from it. With tablets and smartphones revolutionizing the way that we shop, travel and commute, the time has come to accept the inevitable fate of the classroom. Still, this fate can be utilized for the better if done properly and with the earnest desire to do so. While both of these things are true, I think the latter can be truer than the former if a true scholar keeps their verbal and written abilities sharp. There is an appropriate time to ease up on grammatical correctness, and this is the most important thing to remember when it comes to writing academically.


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