Sunday, July 13, 2008

Are We Getting Dumber As Technology Gets Smarter?

by Isla Campbell

Recently, a leading UK business website revealed that they now have to spend over 25% of their online search marketing budget to cater for misspelt words, hinting towards a worrying trend in today's society and suggesting we may have become too reliant upon technology, while our language skills suffer as a result.

With over 50% of English school leavers failing to grasp even the most basic levels of spelling and grammar there is an argument for closer monitoring on the country's education system and how technology is impacting upon the country's young minds.

Perhaps the finest example of how the English language is being "dumbed down" can be seen through the ever popular SMS messaging service where there is a tendency to use abbreviated or phonetically spelt words to increase the speed of communication. This development is also evident in instant messaging conversations, with users of MSN or Yahoo! Messenger shortening their words using "expressions" and emoticons to communicate their message. With over 70% of Europe's online population using instant messaging (IM), this issue is not going to go away; speed, it seems, is more important in today's society, than the quality of the message itself.

As our children use the internet more - as opposed to libraries for their source of knowledge, they are recycling information found through search engines and new authority sites such as Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia which is free for anyone to add content to.

If our young are using these portals as the oracles of truth, then any poor grammar or misspelled words found in such sources, such as the word mannequin, will not help the education of the children in the UK and can even have worldwide ramifications.

Also quite concerning is the growth in misspelt or abbreviated words being used in the naming of children. Recent research from Australia revealed an increase in the multiple spellings of names such as Aiden, which were found to be spelt in nine ways, and Amelia and Tahlia in eight ways. Errors such as this can not be easily corrected and parents of this future generation are damming their children to a life with a misspelt name because they wanted an individual looking name, or just couldn't be bothered to get it right.

Generations before us would have had language issues with their predecessors, however the staggering advancement in technology is having such a dramatic and potentially wide scale damaging effect on this generations̢۪ ability to communicate. We are creating a situation where the youth of today can communicate amongst themselves, but not with their grandparents.

We could well be facing a communication divide that we may find hard to bring together in the future.

About the Author

Isla Campbell writes on a number of topics on behalf of a digital marketing agency and a variety of clients. As such, this article is to be considered a professional piece with business interests in mind.

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