Psychology students at the University of Alberta have been looking at how 'textspeak' affects children's abilities to spell in conventional English. The students asked 40 12-17-year-olds to save their instant messages for a week - at the end of the study the participants completed a standardised spelling test. The study found that children who were good spellers in standard English were also good spellers in 'chat speak' and children who were poor spellers in standard English were poor spellers in chat speak. Girls used more chat speak than boys who preferred to express themselves through repeated use of punctuation!!! The boys who used more abbreviations were worse spellers whereas the girls who used more abbreviations were better spellers. Even the students - who were not that much older than the participants - had to use online dictionaries and ask their siblings to explain some of the abbreviations.
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