Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education News Technology

Children Using Technology Have Better Literacy Skills 146

Posted by timothy
from the exactly-as-useful-as-other-self-assessments dept.
eldavojohn writes "A UK study of three thousand children aged nine to sixteen suggests something that may not come as a shock to geeks: using technology increases a child's core literary skills. As Researcher Obvious put it, 'The more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills.' And for those of us worried about a world of 'tl;dr' and 'Y U H8n?' the research claims that 'text speech' does not damage literacy. The biggest shortcoming of this research is that it appears the children graded their own writing in that their methodology was an online survey designed to ask the children which technology they use and then follow up with asking them how well they write to determine which children have better literacy skills."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Children Using Technology Have Better Literacy Skills

Comments Filter:
  • Huge Fail (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:05PM (#30317272) Journal

    I can say I'm amazing at intercourse, but it doesn't make it so.

    • ...that's what she said.
      • I wholeheartedly made the effort to get into third place today. It appears that my dreams have become reality. Thus, in the way that I have made this tertiary post, I have divined myself beyond a modest man's wildest dreams and into the oblivion of happiness.

    • Re:Huge Fail (Score:5, Insightful)

      by schon (31600) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:08PM (#30317322)

      Tell me about it.. a self-selecting group of people grade themselves? How on earth is that scientific?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098)

        Beats me. Especially in light of the fact that people who are bad at something completely overestimate their skill-level. This data is complete junk. Nevertheless, I fully expect it to be repeated ad nauseam all over the place.

      • by Daimanta (1140543) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:21PM (#30317562) Journal

        More like "People on the internet have big egos". So what? I already knew that. Because I rock.

        • by Korin43 (881732)
          More like "people who read a lot are better at reading". That's not obvious at all..
      • by Nit Picker (9292)

        Exactly.

        Besides the fact that people who feel their writing is good are more likely to write, somewhere I have read a research study showing that poor students are likely to overrate their mastery of a subject whereas good students are more likely to underrate their ability.

      • by rumith (983060)
        If most members of that group assign similar grades to their peers, that could mean in the light of this study that some of that "c u l8r" stuff can more or less informative to them, and that - shock! - people can be worse or better at using this newspeak, if I may say so. This is the valuable result of this study, not the actual ratings. In other words, we have just discovered that this newspeak is an actual language, which also has more and less skilled users, and that the quality of their newspeak skills
        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          lol wut.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by blahplusplus (757119)

        "Tell me about it.. a self-selecting group of people grade themselves? How on earth is that scientific?"

        Happens all the time, it's called peer review.

        • Happens all the time, it's called peer review.

          Am I missing the sarcasm here? A non-specific group of kids graded themselves, not each other.

        • Re:Huge Fail (Score:5, Informative)

          by schon (31600) on Friday December 04, 2009 @12:12AM (#30320772)

          Happens all the time, it's called peer review.

          Your lack of science knowledge is astounding.

          Peer review is you know, when your peers review your work. That's why it's called peer review, and not self review.

          • by Nutria (679911)

            Your point is valid.

            However, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that researchers volunteer to referee papers, which leads to a form of self-selection bias in the formation of the "referee pool".

        • "Tell me about it.. a self-selecting group of people grade themselves? How on earth is that scientific?"

          Happens all the time, it's called peer review.

          +5 insightfull? - I would like to think the mods were refering to the title of your post but somehow I doubt it.

      • Hmm. I wonder if self-grading their own work is how the researchers got their degrees.
      • by steelfood (895457)

        If your questions get progressively difficult to comprehend, then it's a pretty sure bet that the more questions return answered, the higher the literacy. And instead of making it a multiple-choice, the survey questions may ask for answers in actual sentences. This would test the ability to read and write (at worst, the written answer can be analyzed and given a grade).

        Not that that's what they were doing, but it's one method at least.

        • I know it's cheating but I read the abstract, there survey was not intended to measure literacy.

          Quote - "The key objectives of this survey were therefore: to explore how much young people enjoy writing, what type of writing they engage in, how good at writing they think they are, what they think about writing and what the role of technology is in young people's writing." (my emph)
      • They're right, text speech doesn't degrade literary skills... it's an indicator of deep-seated brain damage. They had cause and effect reversed.

        • > They're right, text speech doesn't degrade literary skills... it's an
          > indicator of deep-seated brain damage.

          Others are using "fail" as a noun and abusing the word "huge".

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Eye right reel good! Eye yam litter 8! RU litter 8?

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      In other news, practice makes perfect.

    • by Paeva (1176857)

      In other news, an online survey shows that Slashdot users are smarter, better looking, and less likely to live in their parents' basements.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by YayaY (837729)

      Dunning-Kruger effect :

      The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which "people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it". The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than actuality; by contrast the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to a perverse result where less competent people w

  • If I were to ask people what kind of technology they use and then ask them how well they hold their liquor, without testing the second half, then I haven't really done any research at all, have I? No. This could just as easily have said "children who use technology tend to think they're way smarter than everyone else." It may turn out to be true, but that doesn't mean the research is actually valid. Just sayin'.
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by war4peace (1628283) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:42PM (#30317864)
      ...furthermore, if the survey was something like this:
      "Do you enjoy writing? Click on the appropriate checkmark: [ ]Yes | [ ]No"
      then all I can say is... "d00d, wtf".
      I self-taught to be so attentive when writing and always try to be as exact as possible (although English is not my native language). It's a matter of pride, I confess, but it helped me a lot in the past. My native language contains special characters (îâ) which are used by maybe 1-2% of people while writing on the Internet, mainly because localized keyboards are hard to find and unappealing to most. Even I don't use a localized keyboard but use the OS-defined layout for my native language as default. learning it was pretty difficult, because back when I made contact with computers localization was unavailable. So after years of using English alphabet it was a pain to switch. Nevertheless, I pulled it off and now I'm proficient (albeit not very fast) in writing correctly in both English and my native language.
      Why do I say that here? Well, I'm having difficulties understanding what some people write to me; they're using mangled words, numbers instead of letters, and even if in most mild cases of language mutilation I can get what they mean, the more extreme cases leave me perplexed. "I dn knw i r b @ hom 2morw" made no sense to me until properly translated :) - and most of that... can I say "crap"? comes from teenagers. Amazingly enough, this metalanguage has no secrets to them, but my petty attempts to understand them and respond back to them in the same style only amuses them.
      So please allow me to say that I seriously doubt this "study".
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Madsy (1049678)
        Incidentally, you have a number in your handle. I assume 4 is suppose to mean 'for'? :-)
    • by maxume (22995)

      Well, see, the researchers in question graded their own research, see.

    • Everyone already knows that Linux users hold their liquor better than anyone else. I bet it has something to do with all that free beer I keep hearing about.
  • you know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:10PM (#30317360) Homepage
    There is also a correlation between wealth and access to technology. And a correlation between wealth and literacy.
    • Re:you know... (Score:4, Informative)

      by msauve (701917) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:12PM (#30317388)
      ...and a correlation between the sunrise and the morning paper.
      • by chromas (1085949) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:25PM (#30317618)
        The correlation is almost nobody sees either of those, anymore.
    • There is also a correlation between wealth and access to technology. And a correlation between wealth and literacy.

      There are statistical techniques to analyze the contribution of multiple variables to a result, and social scientists routinely use these techniques to control for confounding factors like wealth.

      For example, a typical study on something racism will claim something like, say, that after controlling for wealth and education, black people get worse deals on mortages; that is, the study will use

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:11PM (#30317362)
    From the summary: using technology increases a child's core literary skills

    Neither the BBC article nor the researchers make this claim. They just say that it is correlated with better literacy.

    • That's hardly the issue, since the test of literacy was self-graded.

    • That was my thought when I read the title on RSS -- are they conflating correlation and causation again?

      I would suggest that if you've got a lot of technology at your house (in my case, the computers outnumber the people) then you have a fair bit of extra cash on hand. That probably means that you've got a well-paying job, not two or three low-end jobs. That means you're home more often and spend more time with your kids and thus encourage them to read.

      I know a guy my age who learned Japanese just to be abl

    • More to the point, real studies point out the complete opposite. Writing skills are sub-par. Technology has not increased people's literary or intellectual abilities. If anything, it has dumbed people down. How many people know how to spell or know the definitions of words?
  • Online Survey? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:13PM (#30317396)

    An online survey isn't science, (If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane). The summary itself exposes the falacy right out ("...may not come as a shock to geeks"). The geeks are the ones more likely to be filling out an online survey in the first place. Not to mention the obvious class differences between those who have ready access to lots of technology vs those who don't and what that implies about their neighborhoods and schools. There's all kinds of variables that arent being controlled for.

    • An online survey isn't science, (If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane)

      What "important" things could one even do if these results WERE valid? Pass legislation reguarding education and literacy? From what I can see, using flawed studies is pretty much par for the course in how we set some of our policies.

      That whole "prayer in school" thing for example. Things like this [answers.com] are apperantly convincing to some people.

    • From the article...

      Of the children who neither blogged nor used social network sites, 47% rated their writing as "good" or "very good", while 61% of the bloggers and 56% of the social networkers said the same.

      I believe that a lower number of children feel good or very good about their writing, because w/o an online audience, their only likely critic would be their school teacher. Teachers are more likely to be critical of writing, with the hope that their constructive criticism encourages students to corre

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:13PM (#30317404)
    Reading ability also increases with shoe size.
  • by L3370 (1421413) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:14PM (#30317416)
    rofl omg i been usin tech 4 a looooooong time since i wuz a kid now i read good but my boss tellz me not to send emails and memos nemore cuz no1 can read em lol!!!1
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:23PM (#30317588) Journal

      rofl omg i been usin tech 4 a looooooong time since i wuz a kid now i read good but my boss tellz me not to send emails and memos nemore cuz no1 can read em lol!!!1

      You laugh, but *I'm* the one stuck writing all the memos for admin, HR, and accounting... because out of those who speak English well, I'm the only damn person who can write.

      Last week HR submitted a trouble ticket for me to write the invitation to the office holiday party... and I'm not even part of IT! The IT head printed out the ticket and brought it to my office. We laughed, but deep down inside, I wanted to cry.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        Last week HR submitted a trouble ticket for me to write the invitation to the office holiday party... and I'm not even part of IT! The IT head printed out the ticket and brought it to my office. We laughed, but deep down inside, I wanted to cry.

        Have some mercy on those IT guys. Have you ever seen them try to write? It's like a train wreck.
      • At least they are smart enough to know they can't communicate in writing. I used to be at a company that, while not putting out the company newsletter in 1337, would crank it out full of spelling and grammar errors. It made one cringe to know customers were reading this thing and judging the people at the company from it.
        • by tool462 (677306)

          At least they are smart enough to know they can't communicate in writing.

          Too bad they're too stupid to realize they can do something about it.

          • by sorak (246725)

            Unfortunately, they found that the simplest solution is to pawn the task off on the one guy who can do it.

      • I would have closed the ticket with a two word note: 1D10T error

        They made a movie [imdb.com] about this ...

  • OMG yes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:14PM (#30317426)

    I no. this story iz so tru. i c ug apps 4 my college that luk lik this. way smart

    • Ewe hav too bee more better 2 mak it n2 colege. Eye have scene some badder righting coming from gooder students, but they are soon made sum more better aftre reeding my righing. I'11 tech ur kids howl 2 bee the goodest. U'll see.
      Sighned: Pubic Skool Teecher.

  • Zero value study (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:15PM (#30317442)

    This is not merely a shortcoming, it is a devastating hole that renders the study utterly useless. This has to be about the dumbest survey I've ever heard of. No conclusions can be drawn from a self-assessment of ones own ability. Other research has shown a correlation between lack of ability and overestimation of ability in self-assessment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Daimanta (1140543)

      "Other research has shown a correlation between lack of ability and overestimation of ability in self-assessment."

      True, we call them managers.

    • by Endo13 (1000782)

      No conclusions can be drawn from a self-assessment of ones own ability.

      Sure there can. After reading the article, I have drawn the conclusion that the participants in the survey consider themselves more literate than they are.

      • Sure there can. After reading the article, I have drawn the conclusion that the participants in the survey consider themselves more literate than they are.

        No, you don't know how literate they actually are.

        This is like asking people what kind of shoes they own, and how fast they think they can run, then concluding that people who own running shoes run faster than those who don't.

        So you know some people consider themselves to be better at something than others, and that is hardly original.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:38PM (#30317812) Homepage

      Other research has shown a correlation between lack of ability and overestimation of ability in self-assessment.

      Though for completeness sake, it should be mentioned that those studies showed that correlation by asking the participants how much they had overestimated their own abilities.

    • by tool462 (677306)

      You can draw information from self-assessment, just not the information they were trying to get here.

      For instance, the interesting study that found that 67% of people think they are above average.

    • by evanbd (210358)

      Other research has shown a correlation between lack of ability and overestimation of ability in self-assessment.

      Unskilled and unaware [apa.org] (pdf) is one such study. Very interesting stuff.

    • by sorak (246725)

      If I were to perform a study, however, I would like to grade the students on writing ability (grammar errors, spelling errors, etc), and then compare those grades to their self-assessments. Is it possible that technology causes us to overestimate our literacy skills?

    • by cvd6262 (180823)

      I agree with you on this target variable because we can assess child literacy in a more objective manner.

      However, there are plenty of psychological constructs for which self-assessment is the most accurate method of measurement. The results of those measures should at some point be compared against other non-self-reported data, but they are very useful.

  • so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinbroker (1000903) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:18PM (#30317498)
    The biggest shortcoming of this research is that it appears the children graded their own writing in that their methodology was an online survey designed to ask the children which technology they use and then follow up with asking them how well they write to determine which children have better literacy skills

    So, really, the only conclusion we can draw from this is that 'the more technology one uses, the better they think their literacy is." Great.
  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:18PM (#30317500) Homepage Journal
    I've noticed that since being online my spelling has improved tremendously. As a kid growing up I always had much difficulty with spelling/grammar, but in a world of red squiggly lines misspelled words become hard to ignore. I know most people say that spell check ruins people's ability to spell, however I'd argue the opposite.
    • by log1385 (1199377)
      <quote>I've noticed that since being online my spelling has improved tremendously. As a kid growing up I always had much difficulty with spelling/grammar, but in a world of red squiggly lines misspelled words become hard to ignore. I know most people say that spell check ruins people's ability to spell, however I'd argue the opposite.</quote>

      I think that's only partially true. I can't tell you how many times per day I see someone type "loose" instead of "lose", or misuse "to" and "too". Basic th
      • by maxume (22995)

        Zing!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Basic things like that slip through spell checks all the time, and I'm always seeing otherwise literature people misusing words like that.

        self-referential?

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Sure, there are some common words that continue to get misspelled, but now we have a hand full of words that get misspelled instead of thousands. No doubt, "to" and "too" got misused long before the spell checker.
    • by Mr. DOS (1276020)

      I halve a spelling checker,
      It came with my pea see.
      It plainly marks four my revue
      Mistakes I dew knot sea.

      Eye strike a key and type a word
      And weight four it two say
      Weather eye am wrong oar write
      It shows me strait aweigh.

      As soon as a mist ache is maid
      It nose bee fore two long
      And eye can put the era rite
      Its rarely ever wrong.

      I've scent this massage threw it,
      And I'm shore your pleased too no
      Its letter prefect in every weigh;
      My checker tolled me sew.

      --- Mr. DOS

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Yew shut all wise truss yore spill chucker!

      If you want to learn spelling and grammar, read a lot of BOOKS. Books that have had professional writers, editors and proofreaders. The internet is NOT a good place to learn grammar, and a spell checker is the reason so many people use the verb "loose" when they really need the verb "lose". It's also the reason they don't know the difference between there, they're, and their.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:21PM (#30317570)
    I had a period of time between school and the rise of blogging where I didn't write as much. And I guess my writing skills languished. I think they've improved now. I probably dont write long essays or papers as well because I haven't been doing that in a long time.
  • by MSG (12810)

    I thought slashdot ran a story on the Dunning-Kruger effect [wikipedia.org] fairly recently. Am I imagining things?

  • Of the children who neither blogged nor used social network sites, 47% rated their writing as "good" or "very good", while 61% of the bloggers and 56% of the social networkers said the same.

    It is baffling as to why anyone even bothered running this survey. Even if we assume that these kids are not intentionally lying, studies have shown that people generally tend to rate themselves as above average. To paraphrase these studies:

    Idiots do not realize they are stupid. (If you don't know there are 2 homophones of "there," then you won't know if you're using it wrong.)
    Exceptionally intelligent types underestimate how much smarter they are than Joe-average ("I can't be the only one who thought t

    • Idiots do not realize they are stupid. (If you don't know there are 2 homophones of "there," then you won't know if you're using it wrong.)

      Example 2: If you do not know how to spell "Kruger," you will not realize you've misspelled it until you post your comment and see the one right above yours with the correct spelling.

    • Aha! Thank you. This was what I was trying to come up with. If only I had hit refresh an extra time rather than posting down below.
  • I can't seem to come up with the name for the effect (named for the researchers who observed it), but I'm fairly sure there's research out there that suggests that people who have great confidence in their performance on cognitive tests disproportionately tend to have scored poorly. In short, stupid people don't know that they're stupid.

  • Kids can afford to use different media because thier parents can afford it.

    To some extent, wealth is correlated with education.

    Certainly the most obvious causal factor for language skills is the amount of language skills their parents exhibit. Those are correlated with both education and wealth.

    It may not be the toys, but the parents.

  • by s-whs (959229) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:39PM (#30317830)

    using technology increases a child's core literary skills. As Researcher Obvious put it, 'The more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills.' And for those of us worried about a world of 'tl;dr' and 'Y U H8n?'

    I don't know about literary skills, but I see an abundance of wrong spellings of words that don't have the right meaning but phonetically are almost the same. An example is 'of' instead of 'have'. E.g. someone may write "he would of done this" instead of "he would have done this". Probably caused by trying to write too fast and not thinking about what they wrote, and that's a phenomenon that I've only seen the last 4 years or so (I think I first spotted this in a subtitle for Torchwood. I almost couldn't believe my eyes, that such a mistake was made by the BBC). If that time estimate is correct for when this sort of thing started, then possibly technology, or probably better the entire lifestyle (fast paced, short attention span, exacerbated by TV's ads that interrupt programs) in the west these days, may be the cause of this.

    • by Tacvek (948259)

      "would of", "Could of", "should of", etc derive from contractions of the form "would've", "could've", "should've". Those exist only in extremely informal speech, and virtually never in writing of any kind. However it is particularly common in America for children to hear these contractions as two separate words, and they incorporate them into their speech as such. When they go to write it down, they write is as "would of", and they don't see the problem. If they correctly wrote "would've" they might see the

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Probably caused by trying to write too fast and not thinking about what they wrote

      No, it's cause by never reading, and not thinking about the meaning of what one hears. Now that we have the internet, there are illiterates trying to learn to read by reading other illiterates' writing.

      You can always tell whan someone on the internet is a reader; their spelling mistakes are clearly typoos and not illiterate ignorance like "if you have three rock's, you loose."

      Yes, that typo was deliberate ;)

  • by tinkerton (199273) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @07:28PM (#30318482)

    Study finds that toddlers who spend all their time on slashdot are much smarter than the average toddler. Well I knew that.

  • Fact is, wealthy kids have more access to technology. Wealth generally equals better language skills. Enough to create a marked correlation. Period. This is true if only because the wealthy define what "literacy skills" are. Always have, and until wealth no longer matters, always will.

    They used to think that such benefits of wealth were the product of "good breeding" in jolly old England. They were wrong. Being well fed, having opportunities, and living in a community where you weren't in fear of your life,

  • Bitch about results from research being "obvious," as if looking into it doesn't serve a purpose.

    See, there's this thing called a "hypothesis" which is a guess (usually pretty well informed) about how something might work. Then - and I know this sounds just totally crazy - but then you *test* that hypothesis by collecting data that's relevant. Insane, right? But that whole process is kind of a big deal as far as the whole "science" thing goes, if you're at all into that.

    About the "obviousness" of it... My f

  • I know the old correlation is not causation thing, but I owe a great deal of my improvement to being online. I started using BBSes when I was in my early teens and quickly found that to be respected, one had to learn to write better. It didn't take me long before I adjusted to that particular climate and what decades of public school never accomplished occurred in me a few weeks to a few months. Before long, my first draft of anything was nearly equal to my final draft and often was.

    I'm not going to say

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

Working...