Over the past several years, social media have taken our society to the next communication level. In addition to being popular, this form of interaction has also created what is called “cyber slang.” This is a term used to describe shortcuts, alternative words, or even symbols used to convey thoughts in an electronic document.
Although this format should be used in a casual social setting, many educators are concerned about the use of “cyber slang” as it has found a way to the classroom. Slang terms and text messaging such as IDK (I don’t know), SMH (shaking my head), and BTW (by the way) have become a common sight on student assignments.
Educators have also seen a drastic decline in their students’ writing abilities due to tweeting, text messaging, etc. This is very alarming, as teachers are concerned about students’ willingness and ability to successfully write academic papers and college essays.
Why? Because students are not capitalizing letters or using the appropriate punctuation, and they think this is okay. In some instances, students have responded to educators by saying, “What is wrong with this format?” or “I write this way all of the time,” and even “What difference does it make? I mean the same thing, the format is just different.”
Although school is a place for kids to learn and advance academically, many of the basic communication skills are learned at home. Not to mention (whether you agree with this or not), students who know when to use “cyber slang” and how to communicate appropriately increase their chances of receiving scholarship essay-writing opportunities over those who continue to use “cyber slang” in an academic or professional setting.
Overall, written communication has become too relaxed, and teachers need your help. Educators need parents to work with their kids and educate them about the importance of formal writing in all settings (academic, personal and professional). This problem extends beyond school. Students must be educated on when to use “cyber slang” and the impact it can have if used in the wrong setting.
So, as a parent, what can you do to help? Well, you can start by eliminating all forms of “cyber slang” from your vocabulary. Do not send your kids text messages that contain these popular abbreviated terms. Send them complete sentences that contain the appropriate punctuation.
Next, review their homework and make sure that these terms are not included. Now, these are kids, and we know that they will use “cyber slang,” and that’s okay. However, they must understand when it is appropriate and when not.
Parents, let’s start discussing the importance of formal writing and other forms of communication and making sure your child understands the adverse impact of “cyber slang.”
Dr. Wendy Johnson has worked in education for years and has a nonprofit organization that works with students and parents.