…A relationship between year in school and technology use quickly emerged, with upperclassmen being significantly more likely to spend more than one hour per day using “older” communication technologies such as the phone and email. Conversely, freshmen were twice as likely as upperclassmen to spend more than an hour each day on social networking sites to communicate and more than twice as likely to be spending that much time text messaging on an average day.
. . .But what does this finding have to do with writing? The younger respondents in my survey tend to spend more time each day interacting with others via communication methods that encourage text shortcuts such as abbreviations, acronyms and emoticons. Therefore, these ways of typing — being more ingrained in younger users’ minds — are probably more likely to bleed over into their more formal writing than among upperclassmen. In the college environment, however, these students are unlikely to find sympathy from their professors if such informal writing styles appear in their midterms and exams. Likewise, these students may have learned in high school about separating their formal and informal writing and do not allow the informal styles discussed in the Pew report to appear in their collegiate writing.
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