Text messages – they’ve been responsible for a lot since the first one was sent in early 1992.

Good stuff like networking, keeping in touch with friends, and quickly updating someone on your whereabouts when you’re late.

They’ve also been responsible for lots of not so good stuff – misunderstandings, annoying ‘good luck in five minutes if you send this to ten people’ messages, and – thanks to those seeking to improve their ‘text lives’ – more than a few divorces.

Women, we are told, are more likely to discuss relationship issues via text, and have longer conversations – hey, that’s just the way most of us are wired! Women are also guilty of looking for hidden meanings in messages while men almost always just say it as it is, no bows and ribbons – and definitely no sub-text.

But all the fun aside, it seems text messaging has not only changed the way we communicate – it’s changing the way our youngsters are learning to read.

In the first study of its kind, a team of scientists at Coventry University found that children who are fluent at text messaging have better literacy skills than youngsters who do not use mobile phones.

I’m sure parents everywhere have feared that writing in text speak would hinder their child’s literacy levels – but the ten-year-study on eight to 12-year-olds, funded by the British Academy, found it actually improved phonetic abilities (no pun intended).

So the next time you see your teenager’s thumb move across the keypad at the speed of light, rest easy in the knowledge that they’re improving their education at the same time.

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