After much debating, a study has finally confirmed that that text/IM/chat speak doesn't hurt kids' language and spelling skills.
In fact, one researcher has described the act of translating the abbreviations as a "brain workout" for those who participate.
In the study, a group of University of Alberta researchers has shown that language commonly used in instant messaging has no effect on your child's spelling abilities. If anything, says study author Connie Varnhagen, using language variations commonly used in instant messaging and texting is actually a good sign.
Varnhagen's findings come from a class-based study that was recently published in Reading and Writing.
A group of third-year psychology students proposed and designed a study to test whether new Simple Messaging Service, or SMS, language-also known as chatspeak-which refers to the abbreviations and slang commonly used when texting, emailing or chatting online, had an influence on students' spelling habits. The group surveyed roughly 40 students from ages 12 to 17. The participants were asked to save their instant messages for a week. At the end of the study, the participants completed a standardized spelling test.
While the researchers expected there to be some correlation between poor spelling and chatspeak, Varnhagen said they were pleasantly surprised by the results.
"Kids who are good spellers [academically] are good spellers in instant messaging," she said.
"And kids who are poor spellers in English class are poor spellers in instant messaging," she added.
Girls used more chatspeak than boys, who preferred to express themselves through repeated use of punctuation. However, the study found that boys who used chatspeak and abbreviations more frequently were poorer spellers.
Conversely, girls who used more abbreviations were better spellers than girls who did not use many abbreviations in their messages, the study found.