The integration of multiple technological devices into everyday life poses a difficult problem for teachers. Many of these devices allow people to communicate across various platforms, meaning that children are frequently writing in non-formal situations which allow for colloquialisms and non-standard sentence constructions. How will this affect their ability to write accurately?
Using social media and messaging apps to correspond is an extremely informal mode of communication and the danger is that many people won’t be concerned with their spelling or grammar in these situations. It’s even possible to send images and emojis to convey meaning, giving the written content less function. This could be incredibly damaging for education.
On the other hand, it gives children the opportunity to practise their writing on a regular basis. It gears young people up for a world in which methods of communication are becoming far less formal, with workplaces regularly using email and instant messaging. Of course, this is slightly different to communication between friends as it’s more important for messages in the workplace to be written clearly and precisely.
The problem comes when children aren’t able to differentiate between formal and non-formal written English. It’s even more important than ever for young people to be given a good understanding of grammar so that they’re able to use it in the classroom and in their future careers. Smart phones and other devices can widen children’s learning opportunities in some instances, but if they play too central a role in the process of learning about writing, the ability to communicate in a variety of different situations will be filtered out.