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Children Who Use Technology Are Better Writers

Those of us who are highly active users of blogging, social media, and other forms of technology requiring ability to properly communicate regardless of the medium agree: fully participating with technology and communicating with others makes us better communicators.

Coming across this article, "Children who use technology are 'better writers'" seemed too broad and blanket of a statement for my taste, but it brought forth my knowing that there was an intrinsic truth to it and I was intrigued enough to poke around and discover the UK-based National Literary Trust and the report itself.

The report validated my personal belief, and reinforced observations that I and many of my colleagues have made, about what happens to someone when they're motivated to communicate with the written word, receive nearly immediate feedback on the efficacy of their writing, and strive to communicate well.

The executive summary had several interesting observations:

"3001 pupils aged 9-16 from England and Scotland completed an online survey in May of 2009. There was an almost equal gender split, with 48.6% of boys and 51.4% of girls taking part. The percentage of pupils who receive free school meals (20.2%), which is frequently used in educational research as a crude indicator of socio-economic background, was higher in this survey compared to the national average for primary and secondary pupils."

One of the key findings of this survey was the number of young people that said they write regularly: 75%. "Technology-based formats were most frequently written. For example, 82% of young people wrote text messages at least once a month, 73% wrote instant messages (such as messages on AIM or MSN), and 63% wrote on a social networking site. Of non-technology based writing, 77% wrote notes or answers in class or for homework at least once a month followed by 52% writing notes to other people."

The other that caught my eye was this one (my emphasis): "56% of young people said they had a profile on a social networking site, such as Bebo or Facebook. 24% said that they have their own blog. While frequently vilified in the media as ‘dumbing d"own’ young people’s literacy, this research shows that technology offers different writing opportunities for young people, which is seen in a link between blogging and (self-reported) writing ability and enjoyment of writing. For example, young people who write on a blog were much more likely than young people who do not write on a blog to enjoy writing in general (57% vs. 40%) and to enjoy writing for family/friends in particular (79% vs. 55%). Young people with a blog (61%) as well as young people with a profile on a social networking site (56%) also displayed greater confidence, believing themselves to be good writers."

As I've said on this blog previously, install the free Wordpress software, let your students use it for any purpose they want (e.g., their activity 'newsletter'; personal blog; et al), and reap the rewards of a motivated student body learning better writing skills in the process!

To learn more, download the full report PDF and/or executive summary PDF.

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