Is text messaging making our kids illiterate? - PAU Cataluña 2008

I love you - I luhz u toKids take to new technology like flies to honey. Among many older folks, it’s conventional wisdom that if you’ve been confused by your computer, DVD or any high tech gadget, the quickest and cheapest way to solve the problem is to ask a fourteen year old to fix it. Lots of kids today grow up with a keyboard in one hand and a joystick in the other.
There are plenty of benefits to introducing kids to tech devices early: playing video games helps to develop hand-eye coordination. They learn multi-tasking skills from juggling several computer programs at once. Surfing the Web can expose them to a vast amount of knowledge that wasn’t available to those of us who grew up without the availability of commercial Internet services, even in some of our best libraries. And kids can have a rich social life and meet a much more diverse group of people to which they might never be exposed in their own hometowns. They can also stay in touch with family members and friends, both local and those who live at a distance, much more easily.
Unfortunately, there are potential harmful effects, in addition to the positive ones. Many parents worry that violent video games may desensitize children to violent behavior in real life, and that the Web will lead them to pornography or hate groups. The people your kids meet online can be good influences – or they could be paedophiles posing as other children to attract unsuspecting youngsters into their traps.
Some experts fear that even in innocuous communications with people they know, kids may be exposing themselves to hidden ill effects. For example, one type of communication that’s very popular with teenagers is real-time chat. This includes Web-based chat, use of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) programs, IM (Instant Messaging) services such as those offered by MSN and Yahoo, as well as SMS messaging via cell phones.
In order to type their messages more quickly, kids often use a type of phonetic shorthand instead of grammatically correct, properly spelled sentences. For example: “R U going 2?” is much faster and easier to type than “Are you going, too?” This becomes an especially attractive option when using a small keyboard like those on cell phones.
But is this making kids illiterate? Educators, parents and others are divided on that question. Some argue that language is always evolving, and newer and more efficient spellings are a good thing. After all, a glance at a page of Old English will show you that we don’t use the same spellings now that our ancestors used. Other, more pessimistic people say IM isn’t so much making kids illiterate as reflecting the growing illiteracy of younger generations.
Some researchers have concluded that teenagers are able to slip easily between abbreviations and conventional spelling, but some teachers say they are seeing the messaging lexicon show up in kids’ school work. Does Shakespeare lose something in translation to “2 b R not 2 b”?
From Internet. Adapted
gadget: dispositiu, maquineta / aparato, artilugio
juggling: fer jocs de mans, provar / hacer malabarismos, probar
desensitize: insensibilitzar / insensibilizar
cell phone: telèfon mòbil / teléfono móvil
shorthand: escriptura abreujada / escritura abreviada
slip: passar (sense pensar) / pasar (sin pensar)

Part 1: Reading comprehension

Choose the best answer according to the text. Only ONE answer is possible.

1. Many older people believe that…
2. “Folks” in line 1 means…
  • ‘educators.’
  • ‘specialists.’
  • ‘philosophers.’
  • ‘people.’
3. One of the good things about high tech is that kids can…
  • meet all the people living in their hometowns.
  • coordinate their hands and eyes into one single skill.
  • buy a lot of information from the best libraries.
  • have a richer social life.
4. According to the author, one of the ill effects of videogames is that kids…
5. “R U going 2?” is an example of…
6. Some pessimistic people complain that…
7. According to the text, researchers and teachers…
8. The author of this article is…


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