Is Texting Really the Genghis Khan of Writing?

Is Texting Really the Genghis Khan of Writing?

Wherever you go, kids’ heads are bent over their iPhones, texting, IMing, and LOLing.  With U.S. academic scores slipping compared to our international brethren1, one can’t help but wonder how texting affects writing and comprehension, especially among teens and tweens.

James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, proposed that young Americans’ electronic communication might be deteriorating “the basic unit of human thought – the sentence.”2 And writer John Humphrys called texters “vandals who are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbors eight hundred years ago.”3


With the texting revolution, many parents feel that their children are actually writing more than they did when they were teens4. And with teens averaging 60 texts a day5, that may be true!

Frankly, I don’t remember kids spending as much time exchanging “letters” with their friends when I was growing up as I see today.  Maybe this is a good thing after all.  So the question is, while texting may be making our youth more prolific writers, just how applicable is this new vocabulary of textisms in “real life”?

In a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project5


  • 50% of teens say they sometimes use informal writing styles instead of proper capitalization and punctuation in their school assignments
  • 38% say they have used text shortcuts in school work such as “LOL”
  • 25% have used emoticons (symbols like smiley faces 🙂 ) in school work.

OMG. That’s a little scary. Or is it?  Are textisms simply the new Ebonics for Gen Facebook?

Will text semiotics show up on the ACTs or SATs for the next generation?


(aka At the end of the day, I haven’t a clue).




Tiffanny Brooks

Senior Director //