October 25, 2012 by Jeff Hurt
Did you know that texting is the number one form of writing today among Millennials?
Some may guffaw at the thought of texting as a form of writing.
Purists scream that young people today don’t know how to write, spell or use proper forms of grammar.
Michigan State University Writing Professor Jeff Grabill would disagree with those last two anti-text thoughts. He has a different perspective on texting.
Grabill’s research, Revisualizing Composition: Mapping the Writing Lives of First-Year College Students, shows that the days of traditional college writing are nearly over. College students now rank texting as the number one form of writing and cell phones as the top writing platform.
“We’re teaching writing the way we’ve been teaching it for the last 100 years,” Grabill said. “Teaching students how to write about literature doesn’t teach them how to write to various audiences or about various subjects. We would better serve students by helping them to solve the writing problems they encounter in their lives using the technologies appropriate for those tasks.”
According to his study of 1,300 first year college students from a variety of U.S. college institutions, texting is indeed writing. And these young adults value texting above any other writing style, even above social media updates and comments.
People may argue that texting is not writing but 15 million first-year college students would disagree. Grabill says that Millennials today lead far more complex writing lives than any other generation.
Why texting? Grabill says that as with other writing genres, it’s communicative, a tool for today’s real world, fast, efficient and second nature in today’s culture of real time connectivity.
Cell phones have become the prominent writing tool for Millennials today.
Young adults use phones most often for sending text messages. They also use them to send email, post status updates in social networks, send instant messages, comment on other’s status updates and post to their life streams.
Millennials also use their cell phones to create lists, take notes during classes, document research and create outlines. Some even use their phones to prepare academic essays and presentations.
Older adults are using their cell phones in similar manners. They create grocery lists, take notes during conference education sessions, capture important links and resources and schedule critical plans in personal calendars.
Here are some other findings from Grabill’s research.
Students use it frequently to communicate with parents, professors and bosses. While they may use it, they don’t value it.
They comment more frequently on friend’s Facebook posts than on their own profiles. They also use Facebook to write poetry, screen plays and lists.
Conference organizers and speakers have to understand that an audience with heads down looking at cell phones during education sessions does not mean they are not paying attention. On the contrary, they may very well be using their cell phone as a pencil taking notes.
Instead of banning mobile devices from conferences and events, organizers should encourage their use and go as far as encourage social sharing of the content and experience.
Savvy conference organizers will embrace texting as a method to send messages to attendees during the event. They will secure conference mobile apps that have instant messaging and texting as part of their features.
Hear more from Grabill:
What are some other ways trade associations and conference organizers can use texting? What are the barriers for today’s organizations to leverage texting?
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[…] Millennials Favor Texting, Do Not Value Email From velvetchainsaw.com – Today, 6:53 AM Did you know that texting is the number one form of writing today among Millennials? And the cell phone is the number one writing platform today? […]
[…] According to Michigan State University Writing Professor Jeff Grabill, cell phones are the new pencil for Millennials. http://velvetchainsaw.com/2012/10/25/millennials-favor-texting-do-not-value-email/ […]
I could not agree more. I cited this research in my latest blog post:
Just like writers of any age, millennials needs to understand how to use the appropriate technology and the right message for the audience. The photo shows a millennial in a recreational setting. That doesn’t mean they won’t email or write a memo if appropriate in a business setting. And, they are not the only generation that needs to understand there are different forms of communication. Some baby boomers refuse to text – even when that might be the best way to reach a staff member out of the office.
[…] elders of Generation Y, as they tend to take their news from more traditional sources. Additionally Hurt (2012) suggests texting over e-mail, so smart phones can be a useful tool to […]
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