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‘Jejespeak’ is the least of our worries


COLUMBIA, Missouri—Let’s not worry too much about young “jejemons.”

How they spell might make us cringe—all those “hellow pOohzz” and “j3j3j3”—but it seems that most students who engage in “jejespeak”  know the difference between a text message and a school essay.

My younger brother Edson IV conducted a survey of 146 high school students in our hometown in Pangasinan for his high school thesis.

He asked participants to spell 10 of the most commonly misspelled English words. Then, he asked them how often they sent text messages.

He found there was no apparent relationship between misspelling and text messaging.

Should this allay fears of educators that text messaging will have an adverse effect on kids’ education?

I remember writing a news story some three years ago on a Department of Education (DepEd) order directing public school teachers to discourage  jejespeak or the students’ use of fancy and weird spellings in text messages.

The DepEd was worried that students would use the same words in their school work, affecting the learning process.

However, the results of my brother’s survey suggested that texting did not seem to affect spelling skills. It could, however, have a negative effect on students’ grades, particularly in English.

Data from my brother’s survey indicated that the more hours spent on text messaging, the lower a student’s grade in English.

This probably resulted from distraction. Too much texting took time away from studying.

I remember when I was in grade school, distraction came in the form of the inviting aroma of hot dogs and isaw being grilled.

Now, distraction is the message alert tone or vibration, if the phone is on silent mode, as many students take their mobile phones everywhere.

Aside from the short message or text service, smartphones also give students  access to the Internet to watch YouTube videos or play games on Facebook.

Time that could be spent reading or doing homework is used up by excessive mobile phone use.

Many students are unable to focus on their studies, as they wait for or answer text messages, surf the Net or strategize for an online game.

Not that students are the only ones who have to worry about distraction.

But for adults, unless they spend an entire day on the online puzzle Candy Crush, a few minutes of distraction can break the monotony that might hinder creativity and even productivity on the job.

A study in the November 2010 issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior found that college students who used Facebook had lower grade point averages than nonusers.

The same study by professors Paul Kirschner and Aryn Karpinski also found that Facebook users spent fewer hours studying than those who did not use Facebook.

A theory in media psychology says humans have limited cognitive capacity to process information. This is especially true now in an information-

saturated world.

Limited cognitive capacity means that if we divide our attention among multiple stimuli, the processing of some stimuli will be inefficient because we will focus more on those that are more stimulating, among other factors.

Facebook, for example, is more interactive than a book or homework, because one can have an actual exchange with another person.

But simply taking phones away from students will not solve the problem of distraction.

Authorities will have to get to the root of the problem and find ways to keep students from getting distracted.

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Tags: Education , Learning , text messaging , ‘jejespeak’

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