While texting may seem like nothing more than another distraction for our fast-paced youth, it turns out this rapid means of communication may be more than just a nuisance. Researchers have found there are actually positive effects of texting for teens, from improved language skills to emotional relief, and even added benefits for the especially introverted teen.
A study published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology in 2010 found texting could positively impact reading and language development. Contrary to the notion that texting could be detrimental to teen literacy, the study found the use of text-speak, or language specific to text messages, was positively correlated with reading ability. The study also noted the use of this text-speak did not carry over to misspellings in academic work and posited the fun associated with texting for young people contributes to greater literacy simply because it encourages teens to interact and engage with the written word.
A study conducted by Israeli researchers and published in "Computers in Human Behavior" found when communicating digitally, teens who begin chatting in a distressed state often experience a reduction in negative moods after talking with a friend. The study reveals teens who regularly text—or converse via the similar instant message—may experience emotional relief and even strengthen their bonds with friends in a way that is supplementary to in-person relationships. They may feel more comfortable opening up with the greater sense of comfort and anonymity this digital barrier provides.
"TIME" magazine offers that texting and other means of electronic communication have positive effects for introverted teenagers. It allows teens who are overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions, but not the most socially savvy, to get straight to the point with friends without having to make uncomfortable small talk or converse in large groups, which may be an additional source of discomfort for the introverted teen. Teens surveyed by the NYU Child Study Center noted they were able to use text messaging to talk to their friends about everything. Texting allows teenagers to say things they might be uncomfortable bringing up in person, helping introverts better reach out to others and express themselves.
Just One Piece
While Amanda Klein of The Huffington Post notes texting can have positive impacts on maintaining relationships, she explains texting is best when used in conjunction with other forms of communication, including face-to-face interactions. Text messaging alone allows people to relay information quickly and make and document basic plans. When texting is implemented alongside in-person socializing, relationships remain more grounded in reality. Teens can use texting to further develop and sustain relationships that already exist.
- British Journal of Developmental Psychology: Exploring the Relationship Between Children's Knowledge of Text Message Abbreviations and School Literacy Outcomes
- The Huffington Post: Text Messaging: Effects on Romantic Relationships and Social Behavior
- TIME.com: How Texting and IMing Helps Introverted Teens
- NYU Child Study Center: Texting and Talking: Kids and Cell Phones
- Computers in Human Behavior: Adolescents' Use of Instant Messaging as a Means of Emotional Relief
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images