Good old Coventry University, which is in the news again this morning after publishing research that shows children who are avid texters have high levels of literacy skills. Funded by the British Academy, the boffins at Coventry analysed the effect of texting on 8 to 12 year-olds. It found that as they get older, children’s grasp of text language increases. So they shorten brother to bro, please to pls, and use acronyms and homophones, even if they don’t know what they are. So tomorrow becomes 2moro and ‘parent over shoulder’ is POS.
The university says that such an analysis can be used to predict reading ability and that children who text a lot have high levels of phonological awareness, a skill that refers to the ability to detect, isolate and manipulate patterns of speech.
All well and good. All very interesting – although asking a child to read a book could perhaps test the same skills. The really admirable thing about the publication of this research today, and the resulting press coverage, is that Coventry University seems to do the story, or a variation on it, every year. Check out this Register story, Texting: Good for Kids, from last year, or this Guardian piece from 2006. Congratulations to Coventry’s PR team.