When tweens write in techspeak, they often use shortcuts, such as homophones, omissions of non-essential letters and initials, to quickly and efficiently compose a text message.
"They may use a homophone, such as gr8 for great, or an initial, like, LOL for laugh out loud. An example of an omission that tweens use when texting is spelling the word would, w-u-d," said Drew Cingel, former undergraduate student in communications, Penn State University, the journal New Media & Society reported.
Cingel, who worked with S. Shyam Sundar, professor of communications and co-director of the Penn State's Media Effects Research Lab, said the use of these shortcuts may hinder a tween's ability to switch between techspeak and the normal rules of grammar, said a university statement.
Cingel, currently a doctoral candidate in media, technology and society, Northwestern University, then gave middle school students in a central Pennsylvania school district a grammar assessment test. The researchers reviewed the test, which was based on a ninth-grade grammar review, to ensure that all the students in the study had been taught the concepts.
"Overall, there is evidence of a decline in grammar scores based on the number of adaptations in sent text messages, controlling for age and grade," Cingel said.
"If you send your kid a lot of texts with word adaptations, then he or she will probably imitate it," Sundar said.
"These adaptations could affect their off-line language skills that are important to language development and grammar skills, as well," he added.