Tweens and teens – every time you text, you could be causing your grades to nose-dive. That’s the finding of a new study. Pennsylvania State University researchers had 200 middle school students complete a grammar test and a questionnaire that asked things like, “How often do you text?” and “Do you use shorthand when you text?” For example, typing the number “2” instead of the word “to” or “U-R” instead of “your.” 

The result? The more a teen texted and used shorthand, or “textspeak,"  the worse they did on grammar and spelling tests. Meanwhile, kids who barely texted and who rarely used textspeak scored sky high on the test.

So why is texting a grammar killer? The researchers say that a lot of teens think it’s “cool” to use textspeak. And they’re always looking for new abbreviations to add to their texting lexicon. But the big problem is that kids can’t seem to turn off textspeak when they’re off the phone, and they continue using improper spelling and grammar when they’re in the classroom. 

It’s almost like learning another language, kids start to think in text abbreviations, so using them becomes secondhand. Eventually, our written language may adapt, and those abbreviations will become so common that they’re acceptable. Kind of like when we dropped the “u” out of certain British word spellings, like the words ‘color’ and ‘behavior.’ 

But that change is in the distant future. So kids can’t use that excuse yet, and a teacher will have no problem failing a kid who uses text speak on class papers. So no matter how cool you think textspeak is, make sure you know what’s grammatically correct.