documenting the evolution of new language as we increasingly rely on text-based forms of communication.
If the new language in instant messaging is truly a new form of written communication, then our taxonomy is important for documenting the evolution and acquisition of this form of communication over time and over contexts.
Although we did not find any age effects in use of new language, we did have a relatively restricted range of people. Future studies need to consider a broader range of youth. Most interesting would be a longitudinal study of children as they begin to use instant messaging.
There is much controversy surrounding children’s and adolescents’ use of instant messaging and other forms of electronic communication. We prefer to view electronic communication as both a new, complimentary language to conventional written language and a natural experiment in the development of written communication. The taxonomy we have developed in this study provides an important tool for investigating new language. Our findings regarding spelling ability and new language use should allay the fears of those who are concerned that new language will have detrimental effects on conventional written language.
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