Technology is it ruining kids' spelling ability?

How many times have you typed something? Whether it's a school paper, a college essay, or just a text, you have probably typed words millions of times. Probably whenever you type, you use auto correct. This may be because you are in a rush or because you have a really small keyboard, but every time you do, you mess up your spelling.

Here's a story to prove just that. I interviewed Cathy Bertini, a guidance counselor at a high school in NYC. The most hectic part of her year is to help kids write and correct their college essays. About a month ago, a girl gives my mom a college supplement to review. As my mom reads through the paper she notices that a few times the girl has written “u.” My mother was shocked. This girl is a smart girl and a good student. When my mom asked her about it she said she didn't even realize she had done it. Because this girl texted A LOT. The word “u” had become a permanent part of her vocabulary. But she's not the only one!

English teacher Carrie Beth Buchman who works at Chalkville High School has seen “many misspelled words and many texting abbreviations in her students’ writing.” (Bakken) This is a problem.

I conducted a survey with the kids in my English class. I found very interesting results. I surveyed 14 people. Of the 14 people, 50% said they typed something more than five times a day, not including texting or social media. I found this surprising because I would have thought students type a lot more on daily basis, based on what I see in class. This is more than likely due to kids who use their iPads to take notes in class or who like to type instead of write.

If you are in class and you need to type something really fast it's OK to accidentally spell something wrong because you pressed the wrong key. That is what auto correct should be used for. It shouldn't be used to type an English paper in which you do not know how to spell many of the words. That's why you should always handwrite papers out first. That way you know if there is a word you do not know how to spell.

In the same survey, 71.4% of the people said they preferred typing over writing. It could be for many reasons but the reason that people probably chose that is because typing is just easier.

Typing uses a different part of the brain than writing, and you have to think less because the letters are all at your fingertips, so it's easier to do. But the people who type are at a disadvantage, because it is all mechanical and not necessarily thought. The other 28.6% of people who like to write things down will remember the notes they take better than the people who type, because the part of your brain used to write is tied to the memory part so when you write it sticks in your memory.

When you take a test, the notes you typed will not be of much use if you did not review them multiple times, whereas even if you only wrote down your notes once, you have a better chance of remembering them.

There have been studies done all over the world to study typing and spelling. In England, there was a study done to see if people from an earlier generation were better spellers than the people from this generation. It was found that women over the age of 65 were the best spellers. (Graeme) When these women were kids technology wasn't very big. Being able to type something and have misspelled words be corrected was a dream for most kids doing their English essays. If a kid who only types were to be put into a time before technology, they would be in big trouble.

Since the age of 3, kids have been trying to spell. They start with squiggles on a paper and show off their “writing”. (Kaye) But, little do these kids know that soon they won't be writing anymore. Now, most kids are taught to type in about third grade. They are being taught an easier way to express their thoughts and it isn't helping in their writing skills.

In an interview I did with Lorenzo Bertini, a nine year old from Larchmont, NY, he said that he preferred typing to writing. I asked him why. He had an answer that I think many people have.

He said that he liked typing better because he knew if he spelled a word wrong the computer would correct it for him. And that in writing you had to make sure you spelled all the words right and that was hard and a lot of work.

Kids are being taught the wrong message. Many students are now becoming accustomed to having autocorrect fix their spelling for them. They expect someone to fix all their spelling errors because they are so used to having auto correct on their phones. (Johnson) This is making students think that they don't need to know how to spell and that they can rely on autocorrect and that they don't have to put any work into it.

Overall, I think that kids are being badly influenced by auto correct and the messages it puts in their heads. Kids should be able to write an essay without needing to spell check it. Teenagers are perfectly capable of writing without using autocorrect they're just too lazy to do it. So we need to find a way to fix this. The children and teens need the help of adults with the mixed message of autocorrect, because although autocorrect is useful, kids still need to know how to spell. We don't want to turn into computer controlled robots do we?

By Lorelei Bertini©


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