MyNotes - Writing, Teens and Technology (2008)

Fascinating insights into teens writing in school.

Source: Summary of Findings | Pew Internet & American Life Project:
# Teenagers’ lives are filled with writing. All teens write for school, and 93% of teens say they write for their own pleasure.What, if anything, connects the formal writing teens do and the informal e-communication they exchange on digital screens?

The report that follows looks at teens’ basic definition of writing, explores the various kinds of writing they do, seeks their assessment about what impact e-communication has on their writing, and probes for their guidance about how writing instruction might be improved. f writing they do, seeks their assessment about what impact e-communication has on their writing, and probes for their guidance about how writing instruction might be improved.

Even though teens are heavily embedded in a tech-rich world, they do not believe that communication over the internet or text messaging is writing.

85% of teens ages 12-17 engage at least occasionally in some form of electronic personal communication, which includes text messaging, sending email or instant messages, or posting comments on social networking sites.
60% of teens do not think of these electronic texts as “writing.”Teens generally do not believe that technology negatively influences the quality of their writing, but they do acknowledge that the informal styles of writing that mark the use of these text-based technologies for many teens do occasionally filter into their school work.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of teens (64%) say they incorporate some informal styles from their text-based communications into their writing at school.

# 50% of teens say they sometimes use informal writing styles instead of proper capitalization and punctuation in their school assignments;
# 38% say they have used text shortcuts in school work such as “LOL” (which stands for “laugh out loud”);
# 25% have used emoticons (symbols like smiley faces :-) ) in school work.
# 83% of parents of teens feel there is a greater need to write well today than there was 20 years ago.
# 86% of teens believe good writing is important to success in life – some 56% describe it as essential and another 30% describe it as important.
# 48% of teenagers’ parents believe that their child is writing more than the parent did during their teen years; 31% say their child is writing less; and 20% believe it is about the same now as in the past. 94% of black parents say that good writing skills are more important now than in the past, compared with 82% of white parents and 79% of English-speaking Hispanic parents.
# 88% of parents with a high school degree or less say that writing is more important in today’s world, compared with 80% of parents with at least some college experience.
Teens also report writing for an audience motivates them to write and write well.

Most teens write something nearly every day for school, but the average writing assignment is a paragraph to one page in length.

* 50% of teens say their school work requires writing every day; 35% say they write several times a week. The remaining 15% of teens write less often for school.
* 82% of teens report that their typical school writing assignment is a paragraph to one page in length.
* White teens are significantly more likely than English-speaking Hispanic teens (but not blacks) to create presentations for school (72% of whites and 58% of Hispanics do this).

# Overall, 82% of teens feel that additional in-class writing time would improve their writing abilities and 78% feel the same way about their teachers using computer-based writing tools. 49% of girls keep a journal; 20% of boys do. 26% of boys say they never write for personal enjoyment outside of school.47% of teen bloggers write outside of school for personal reasons several times a week or more compared to 33% of teens without blogs.
# 65% of teen bloggers believe that writing is essential to later success in life; 53% of non-bloggers say the same.
# 72% of teens say they usually (but not exclusively) write the material they are composing for their personal enjoyment outside of school by hand; 65% say they usually write their school assignments by hand.

* 15% of teens say their internet-based writing of materials such as emails and instant messages has helped improve their overall writing while 11% say it has harmed their writing. Some 73% of teens say this kind of writing makes no difference to their school writing.
* 17% of teens say their internet-based writing has helped the personal writing they do that is not for school, while 6% say it has made their personal writing worse. Some 77% believe this kind of writing makes no difference to their personal writing.

When it comes to using technology for school or non-school writing, teens believe that when they use computers to write they are more inclined to edit and revise their texts (57% say that).
27% of parents think the internet writing their teen does makes their teen child a better writer, and 27% think it makes the teen a poorer writer. Some 40% say it makes no difference.


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