Technology plays a vital role in the lives of teenagers. It is a medium used by Generation Y for a myriad of different purposes; communication, leisure and education. Teenagers employ the use of mobile phones and personal computers; they access the internet via these platforms using them to communicate with their peers. Throughout this essay I will be analysing the "impact inflicted upon teenager's (16-18 years) communication levels with the rapid development of technology". The rapid development of technology, communication and its impact on teenagers will be the focus of this essay.
The Oxford English dictionary defines technology as "the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment" (Technology. (n.d.), Dictionary.com, 2010). The concept of technology interrelated with communication refers to communication via various avenues such as internet platforms (msn, twitter, flutter, etc.) which can also be connected to handheld devices such as mobile phones. Technology aids teenagers in communicating more easily and efficiently. The role of technology has changed greatly in recent times, and is not a new phenomenon. It is one that has been developing constantly and improving its efficiency over many years.
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Technology has extended people's ways of communication. To get by their everyday lives people require a great deal of social communication. It has become apparent that in order to increase our awareness of the greater possibilities and options in life, we require greater levels of communication. Teenagers are the next generation; they have grown up with elevated expertise with regard to technology as opposed to the older generations. Technology has allowed for the manipulation of words via msn messengers or phone sms etc using chatiquettes (Netiquette, 2010) which are simpler and more convenient, yet grammatically incorrect. The question is whether technology users have become more educated or less educated via technology.
As part of the research for this topic a questionnaire was conducted where a large amount of data was compiled from a certain age group with regard to their view on the topic of this essay. This allowed for an extra focus on the age group 16-18 where there were 53 participants. My main method of research was asking questions to generate evidence. This evidence was consequently compiled into sets of data to provide information about how teenagers are affected by their increased use of communicative technology. The students all attend a high school in suburban Melbourne. The results of the questionnaire will be discussed in a later part of the essay.
The findings incorporated in the essay are the findings of 'Pew Internet Projects'. These resources will provide an insight into the ways teenagers experience writing and technology in their lives and it will give a clear insight into whether technology users have become more educated or less educated via technology. This will help to determine the true implication that the rapid development of communicative technology has on the teenage age group (16-18) with regard to their communicative skills. This will be achieved by discussing both the negative and positive effects that technology has had on the communication of a teenager. From the discussed information it will be possible to determine the implication of the improvement of technology.
PART 1: The Lives of Teenagers and their Technology
The role of technology in teenager's lives continues to grow. Almost all teenagers nowadays have access to the internet via phones, computers and laptops. Moreover, technology is increasingly found in homes and schools. Teachers often expect students to have access to technology in order to have better presented work that is printed and easier to read. It seems that technology has overwhelmed the lives of teenagers although as mentioned before, it is developing constantly and improving in its user interaction efficiency. Also used to promote technology is the concept that the better technology the student has, in this case school attending teenagers, the more likely they are to excel in school, as it facilitates greater opportunities for education. In general, phones and computers are used by teenagers to keep records of events, to socialize with friends and family and for entertainment, be it gaming, movies and/or as an educational tool.
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In the questionnaire participants were asked:
How often do you engage in some kind of format of electronics (instant messaging, sending emails, texting or posting comments)?
Graph 1: correlation between boys and girls
As seen on the graph, modern day teenagers accomplish a large part of their communication via technology. For internet-illiterates to understand these teenagers they need to implement similar language conventions that teenagers employ whilst using the internet. It is not to say that the original methods of communication have been eliminated, they have been modified through technology. This modification has aroused the concern of many people, with regard to the effect of the use of technology in this way and whether it has a positive or negative effect on them. It can be argued that teenagers communication levels have deteriorated by using shortened wordings like abbreviations or 'chatiquettes' as used in online chatting systems .
Nearly all teenagers use the internet. The internet usage has grown over the years; it has become apparent with many companies as they are providing offers of higher internet usage at lower prices, which indicates as to the demand of internet usage by people. It is fitting to say that since teenagers spend most of their time using technology then they would be the largest consumers of internet usage. The concept of technology in this essay is its interrelation with communication. There is a direct link between teenager's use of new media and how it allows them to enhance their communication techniques.
Teenagers attempt to access communicative technology from various locations. Schools and libraries play an important role in the internet a teen can access outside the home. Now with WAP (wireless application protocol) students can access the internet on their phones, meaning students are constantly up to date even when they are not at home. Teenagers access the internet through credit or through the latest most advanced technologies known as Hotspots/WIFI hotspots. They allow you to access the internet from that "specific" place for free. Hotspots can be found in public areas and include places like Mc Donald's, schools and libraries. Yet, there are limiting factors to using the internet while at school or in the library which include, connection speed, the presence of internet filters, firewalls, and also blocked sites. Therefore it is evident that advancements in technology have allowed for solutions to most communication problems.
As the world is becoming more wirelessly connected it is beginning to revolutionise the way in which teenagers go about with their daily lives. Many teenagers go online daily on social networking sites where you comment and post issues, popular among students these days. These interactive activities involve large volumes of written 'text' and have become one of the essential daily bases of life to most teenagers, since such activities are required multiple times a day. According to the survey I conducted, teenagers have become heavily reliant on technology. In fact 39 out of 53 students say they are constantly engaged in some kind of electronic communication throughout the day, in short 73% of these students are evidently surrounded by electronic devices (Mohamad K, 2010). These devices are being used when a person is bored, while doing homework, before sleeping or as soon as they wake up. Students update themselves for the weather forecast, events or even check their email. In this day and age individuals socially communicate via the internet. Being "switched on" has allowed individuals with opportunities never before fathomed. Nowadays we are able to communicate extensively with our community. One student noted "I love using Skype; I speak to my sister in Abu Dhabi. It's great because I only see her once a year" (Mohamad K , 2010). Rapid developments in technology have created an environment where information is accessible from all parts of the globe. This data is free and easily accessible, for teenagers this means they have access to a range of information resources, all at the click of a button.
The internet has paved the way in communicating information. No longer do students need to have access to physical texts. They can extend their vocabulary, grammar and language conventions all by use of the World Wide Web. When students do not have access to books they can access so much textual context provided by the internet proprietors. Literacy is improved in many ways when a student reads a magazine, an article or even song lyrics they gain different levels of understanding in the way that these different types of pieces are structured. It also helps students understand different phenomena's they are not aware of, by using online thesauruses or dictionaries students are able to widen their vocabulary. Teenagers tend to make meaning from anything they see be it visual, written, or spoken texts.
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Teenagers as mentioned before have developed with technology and Pew internet and American Life project says that "seven in ten students have a mobile phone, and six in ten have a desktop or laptop computer". Yes, six in ten teenagers are likely to have a computer but that is not the only communication tool being used. Mobile phones are perhaps one of the most used communicative technologies and have grown rapidly among teenagers. In general, phones and computers are used by teenagers to keep records of events, to socialize with friends and family and for entertainment, be it gaming, movies, and/or as an educational tool.
PART 2: Teenagers and Their Writing Habits
Having outlined and discussed the way teenagers interact with technology and their dependence on it, a discussion of the effect that this development in communicative technology has on them will allow for a better understanding of the implications of communicative technology. References to writing will be made mainly with regard to academic writing and social writing as they form the main bulk of writing undertaken by teenage students. It is apparent in teenagers that some enjoy writing or are gifted in writing while others are not. Taking into consideration the fact that writing, inside and outside of school writing is usually different in the lives of teenagers, it is possible to categorise them as formal and informal pieces of writing. Writing is essential to a person and it is crucial for people to develop writing skills especially teenagers attending school as it is their main form of communication (exams and tests). Today's teenagers write a significant amount at school and outside of school, yet the writing done outside of school such as emailing, instant messaging and texting are classified as informal writing. When teenagers use the internet they do not employ the proper use of language conventions however, according to Luke and Freebody's Four Rescource Model (refer to appendix 1) they are text decoders, participants, users and analysers.
Language is always going to remain as such, though there are many forms in which a language, in this case English maybe manipulated by different people. The presence of slang English which refers to common day language has no grammatical basis in the English language; this is the best example of the manipulation of language. The same concept of slang language can be applied to the method of shortening words and abbreviating employed by teenagers during their communication through technology. These modifications to the language are not without reason. The abbreviation of words is usually either simply a result of the convenience of shorter words or due to the limitation by certain technology as to the size of the pieces of writing. Therefore the way people apply their language skills is different and will always be different it's up to the teenagers in this day and age to ensure their increased usage of incorrect slang English language does not affect their basic English language skills as the constant use of a certain form of the language will alter the basic underlying grammar principles.
The digital age presents a paradox (Lenhart et al., 2008, pg(i)). Most teenagers now spend a great deal of time sending texts, it remains sceptical as to whether or not this text driven habit is inspiring a new appreciation for writing. As for school writing, the most common type of writing is note taking, writing essays and answering questions. All teenagers that attend school are predisposed to these types of work in most subjects and thus they form the need to improve their formal language skills, it can be safe to assume that formal language is far from being significantly deteriorated at this time in history, as technology is still dependent on formal language to convey ideas and information. As such though teenagers have developed differing writing habits with the use of technology for communication, the fact that they attend school ensures their link to basic formal language is not severed completely. In addition as a teenager most students believe that socially oriented writing they do using electronic devices is considered 'e-communication' and therefore not 'writing' (Lenhart et al., 2008). Students still hold the traditional definition of writing so technically their understanding of writing is not being deteriorated by technology (Lenhart et al., 2008).
In my questionnaire the question asked was "Do you think that 'electronic text' is a form of writing?" produced the following result.
Graph 2: Amount of boys and girls who answered no to the question above
In relation the graph, it can be understood that students do know the difference between electronic text and formal writing. All for one, the internet is a primary source of research for school writing and assignments and is an informative, communicative way that is everywhere and is present anywhere at once. The internet is not only used for school assignments, most commonly it is used for social networking, and communicating and media related activities. The writing students compose in school is basic and compulsory although writing composed outside of school is a piece that you mostly enjoy writing about that you mainly express yourself in. This type of writing outside of school enhances the writing capacity of teenagers in school and excels them overtime.
PART 3: Electronic communication the relationship between writing, communication and technology ownership
Teenagers are known to use the internet for many reasons. A study suggests that the communicative functions of the internet and mobile phone are the main reasons why teenagers use these technologies (Lenhart et al., 2008). These technologies have increased the methods of completing written works and the connection between people. Since technology together with the internet have promoted these types of writings and they have become widely known and popular. It is a worry for some people that students might become attached to these practises of writing and continues to write using the language of the internet. A study confirms 64 percent of youngsters' ages 12 to 17 have used emoticons, text shortcuts and informal language in school assignments, the survey found (Horowitz E, 2008).
Another question asked to the participants' was, 'do you prefer using text language over acceptable English language in your essays?'
Graph 3: Amount of students who prefer using acceptable English language rather than text in essays
To reinforce this I conducted a questionnaire which consisted of 12 questions that precisely devised and simple to understand. The difficulties and challenges encountered while creating this survey was first to actually understanding what students really thought about the influence that technology can have, and whether or not students understood that this rapid development is unhealthy for some of them. All in all everyone has different opinions; I had difficulties understanding some of their extended responses because some students did not answer accordingly. Also the fact that technology has become a part of our lives means it has become virtually invisible because it has become a need in today's society not a want. So it's difficult to ask the students if technology has improved their writing or has degraded their writing, since technology has always existed in these teenagers lives. Therefore, students may not be aware of the impact technology may have on them.
Teenagers in general have had different experiences with writing, as everyone writes for different reasons according to their interests. Nowadays when using the internet it provides you with more words and a wider range of ideas and aspects although it will not change the quality of writing it serves as a good information source, quality of writing comes with time and to establish this a wide range of vocabulary is required.
According to my questionnaire many students believe that abbreviations such as; textonyms and chatiquettes could possibly be a way of speech sooner or later. Students said they can maintain the basic difference within their mentality between these languages and seem to imply that they will not make informal language become inherent within their language habits. Although, social analysts believe it's highly likely with the rapid technology development. Many students have different views to this issue; some say that a text message would represent the way they speak however, with abbreviated words. And some say it depends on whether a person likes formal English speaking/writing or not. These are what some of the students had to say:
The questions asked was "do you think will soon speak the way you use text language? Why?"
Sarah Thomas: year 12 says: "hopefully but I think it's inevitable with the amount of technology surrounding us using this kind of speech".
Zahra Ahmad: year 12 says: "yes, it's happening already, people, especially the younger generation, think its 'cool' to talk this way. Because of so much use of the internet people will soon be speaking in the way of text language.
Fatima Abou-eid: year 12 says:"no because I like to read I love proper grammar and spelling others, however, who do not like English as much, might result in speaking in texting, eventually.
Arian Behbahani: year 12 says: "yes, it is how we communicate by the means of our main ways of communication".
Nur Hannah: year 12 says: "speak? Isn't text whatever you speak but with some letters omitted?"
Many teenagers use informal writing in school work, this consequently affects their language skills, according to Pew Internet Projects 50% of teenagers say they sometimes use the informal writing styles in the writing they perform for school. (Lenhart et al., 2008). It is not surprising that teenagers have adopted these writing skills and apply them to school writing. Given that, the daily lives of teenagers is being consumed by technological communicative systems it is most likely that they incorporate textonyms, acronyms, chatiquettes and abbreviations into school writing, examples of these are LOL (laughing out loud), ily (I love you), hru (how are you).
Using these types of colloquial communicative methods outside of school is not the only factor that contributes to technology based writing in school work. It depends on the students' attitude as well if a student considers that this type of writing 'electronic communication' is considered writing than he or she is likely to use informal writing in school work and vice versa. Teenagers acknowledge the writing of slang in their work, but also overcoming this habit has various difficulties depending on the person though usually it is a matter of revising work to ensure the absence of informal writing.
Overall, students in school are prompted to write about novels and articles which involve a great deal of formal language implementation. School writing helps them to achieve higher grades, excels their grammar their language skills and gives access to schools, universities. Therefore this would form an important motivation for students to perfect their formal language skills instead of allowing technology based language (sms, email, messenger style writing). Whilst the writing teenagers do for their selves' expresses emotions releases stress its simple a chance to keep in touch. Many students value their formal work because it's an accomplishment towards better writing.
This essay was and evaluation of the "impact inflicted upon teenager's (16-18 years) communication levels with the rapid development of technology". Through research it is apparent that technology has extended our avenues of communication. It has done this via social networks and new media; they have paved the way for varied communication methods. Teenagers use these technologies to communicate and converse with their friends and family. Teenagers nowadays have grown up in a developed technical world. The research illustrated the ways in which teenagers use technology and apply it with writing skills, this was investigated due to the development of technology and the question of has technology impacted our youth communication levels?.
Teenagers have adapted to technology and its widespread use in society. The findings that have emerged from this investigation is that teenagers use informal language on social networking sites the same way they use "slang" to communicate with friends. Both types of language would not be employed in a formal manner. As presented in my study, teenagers would use formal language when writing academic text, and could differentiate between the different styles.
The research conducted as part of this study illustrated how technology improves and extends teenagers literacy skills. It proposes the importance of technology in a world dominated by new mediums. The study highlighted that teenagers could distinguish between formal and informal communication, and could determine the correct time and place to use either communication method.
Whether technology or education is the reason for students adopting the 'slang' style of language is a topic that can be further taken into consideration. What Education standard an individual is subjected to for e.g. Private school or a state school is a factor that contributes to an individual adopting slang language and that can be further understood due to different environments, teachers, and students. Although the final decision is for that individual to take, it is up to that individual to speak the way they want to speak. Technology on the other hand is a device students become familiar with easily. In implying this technology has paved ways for better and more effective communication around the globe. Do not be surprised when a student writes so very formally and talks in a manner that is 'colloquial'. It is natural for a teenager to be at work having to complete an assignment/oral, and in doing so they will with no doubt speak/write in an improved formal manner.
Technology and education maybe factors that contribute to an individual speaking colloquially, but these causes can't be to blame solely. The cutting down on letters in a word during a chatting session results in individuals chatting colloquially and that is what technology is made for, to make communication easier.