Grammatical understanding, literacy and text messaging in school children and undergraduate students: A concurrent analysis

Clare Wood, N. Kemp, Sam Waldron, Lucy Hart

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    26 Citations (Scopus)
    47 Downloads (Pure)


    Recent research has demonstrated that use of texting slang when text messaging does not appear to impact negatively on children and young people's literacy and may even benefit children's spelling attainment. However, less attention has been paid to the impact of text messaging on children's and young people's understanding of grammatical forms. This study examined the interrelationships between 243 children and undergraduate students' grammatical violations made when text messaging and their performance on assessments of spoken and written grammatical understanding, orthographic processing and conventional spelling ability. The children were found to make significantly more capitalisation and punctuation errors, and to use unconventional punctuation more frequently that the adults, when the length of their messages was taken into account. For the primary and secondary school children there was no relationship between the tendency to make grammatical violations when texting and their understanding of conventional grammar or orthography. For the young adult sample, there was some evidence of an association between the tendency to make capitalisation and punctuation errors when texting, and poorer performance in selecting the grammatically correct orthographic representation of a pseudoword. This relationship remained after controlling for individual differences in undergraduates' IQ and spelling ability. Overall, there is little evidence that ungrammatical texting behaviour is linked to grammatical understanding or knowledge of orthographic representations of language in children. However, there is some evidence that young adults' violation of grammatical conventions when texting may be linked to limited understanding of grammatically-related orthographic conventions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)281-290
    JournalComputers and Education
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • text messaging
    • SMS
    • grammar
    • spelling
    • language


    Dive into the research topics of 'Grammatical understanding, literacy and text messaging in school children and undergraduate students: A concurrent analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this