SMSes, online chatting affect student grades?
Vibha Sharma

A US study, conducted recently has suggested children spending long time over texting on social networks and the internet do less well in the classroom.

It has been found by other studies as well that when students engage too much in sending and reading text messages, it can adversely impact the ability to understand and learn the course material, thereby impacting the grades that they receive in their courses. "Texting addiction" among the younger generation is on the rise. Whether late at nights, in vehicles, in playgrounds and even in classrooms, the "addicts" continue texting. This phenomenon, which is no longer new now, is a cause of anxiety for parents, caregivers, psychologists and physicians.

Texting throughout the day and even during the night is leading to distracted mind, stressful disposition and falling grades because of aforementioned reasons. Students are not able to build the stamina of long spells of concentration to work systematically on problems demanding extended period of time. The constant ringing of phones to notify the incoming messages and the urge to reply back, get successful in breaking focus immediately.

Sherry Turkle, a psychologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has studied texting among teenagers for many years. She shares that texting is causing a shift in the way adolescents develop. "Among the jobs of adolescence are to separate from your parents and to find the peace and quiet to become the person you decide you want to be, but texting hits directly at both the jobs."

New sms language that has become the preferred medium of communication among students is negatively impacting their writing abilities too. Educators believe that the digital text-lingo is fast pervading even the school/college assignments and papers. Poor punctuation, inappropriate grammar and unbefitting abbreviations are literally assaulting the language writing skills. According to the US study, widespread use of media — from texting to chatting on cell phones to posting status updates on Facebook —may be taking an academic toll. The research is one of the first to explore the effects of new media on academic outcomes. It found some teenage girls spend nearly half their day being engaged in some form of media use, particularly texting, music, the internet and social networking. Researchers found media use, in general, was associated with lower grade point averages and other negative academic outcomes. There were, however, two exceptions, newspaper reading and listening to music were actually linked to a positive academic performance. "Most research on media use and academics has focused on adolescents, rather than new college students, or has only examined a few forms of media," said lead author Jennifer Walsh, of The Miriam Hospital Centre for Behavioural and Preventive Medicine.