Study: Internet Turns Kids Into Terrible Spellers

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Two teenage girls using a laptop

We may have high-speed information at our disposal, but our basic grammar skills are regressing. 

A recent study released by the English Spelling Society reveals that the Web has not only wholly altered the English language, but has turned us into a culture of misspellers. “The increasing use of variant spellings on the internet has been brought about by people typing at speed in chat rooms and on social networking sites where the general attitude is that there isn’t a need to correct typo’s or conform to spelling rules,” the paper says, meaning our attitude toward grammar has become increasingly lenient. But the real harm in a commonplace Web speak shorthand? If correct grammar continues on a path to irrelevancy, children won’t bother to correct themselves, let alone learn it in the first place.

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The study, which focused in on the burgeoning Internet generation reported that one in five 18-to-24 year-olds say they would not feel confident enough to write an important e-mail without a dictionary or spell checker acting as an aid, a scary stat seeing as this is the just the tip of the population who can’t remember a time before computers. Though nearly a third of the those surveyed for the study claimed that alt-spellings common in Internet chatter are “completely unacceptable,” the other two-thirds expressed support for these rebel words to be included in the dictionary. “Accurate spelling is of the utmost importance, but from this most recent survey we can conclude that the unprecedented reach and scale of the internet has given rise to new social practices and it is now an agent in spelling change,” Jack Bovill, Chair of the English Spelling Society, said in the paper.

Maybe grammar could use a reboot.

(via The Independent)