Negative Effects Of Instant Messaging Information Technology Essay

In the recent years Instant Messaging has evolved into one of the most popular means of communication for student population. However as the use of instant messaging steadily increase amongst the student population, there is much talk about the negative affects that (IM) causes on the social and academic aspects of a student day-to-day life. Student are more technology literate and Internet savvy than ever, and they use technology in ways that weren’t even thought about a decade ago. The increased use of text messaging, instant messaging and online chat-rooms is having an adverse effect on the way we communicate.

Instant messaging is a form of computer chat that allows a person to have a real time typed conversation with one or more friends while connected to the Internet. It is a fast growing communications around the world, but especially amongst teenagers. The most commonly used software of Instant Messaging used to date is Microsoft Network (MSN), AIM (AOL Instant messenger) and Yahoo. While everyone recognise that IM is used most by adolescents around the world, there seem to be talks on how it affects a student life on academics. There are people who see the use of “Internet English” as a breakdown of the English language. According to Lee, (2002) “Some teachers see the creeping abbreviations as part of a continuing assault of technology on formal written English language.” A major concern about the use of IM has to do with the breakdown of the English language, students who use Instant Messaging on a frequent basis often use bad grammar, poor punctuation, and improper abbreviations in academic writing. As Lee says (2002), “teachers say that papers are being written with shortened words, improper capitalisation and punctuation, and characters like &, $ and @”. What is not understood is that these mistakes are often unintentional because when a student use IM frequently they reach a point where they no longer see the “lingo” in their text messages because they are so used to seeing it. For example a student by the name of Montana Hodgen, in Montclair News Jersey said her ability to separate formal and informal English declined the more she used instant messaging. “I was so used to reading what my friends wrote to me on (IM) that I didn’t even realize that there was something wrong”(Lee, 2002). Parents and teachers are becoming concerned by the effects of Instant messaging on the writing skills of teenagers, who spend on average 31 hours a week online according to a survey done by (, which most of the time is spent chatting with friends on MSN, YOUTUBE and online chat rooms. Another example of the negative use of IM would be a man by the name of Carl Sharp, whose 15 year old son’s summer job application read “I want 2ba consular because I love to work with kids (Friess,2003). An English instructor by the name of Cindy Glover who teachers at the Florida Atlantic University says she “spent a lot of time unteaching Internet speak, my students were trying to communicate fairly academic scholarly thoughts but some of them didn’t seem to know its y-o-u not, U.” (Freiss,2003).

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Not only does IM affect the academic life of student in Universities it has even begun to reach into the minds and lifestyle of teenager’s as young as 13 years of age. A 13 year olds teacher said she couldn’t understand a word of what the girl had written in her essay. Her essay stated “My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kids FTF. ILNY, it’s a gr8 plc.”

When translated back into Standard English this same statement says “My summer holidays were a complete waste of time. Before, we used to go to New York to see my brother, his girlfriend and their three screaming kids face to face. I love New York. It’s a great place”( Although instant messaging is a fast way to communicate with friends and loved ones, one could say that it is a whole new language in of itself, with new abbreviations and acronyms. A language that is fast becoming familiar to a growing number of instant messaging users. Despite the popularity and ease of use, as more people use the abbreviations of instant messaging it is more likely to be used in their everyday speech and in academic writing. An American University Linguistics professor by the name of Naomi Baron said that instant messaging is another example of an established trend in written communication. “So much of American society has become sloppy or laissez faire about the mechanics of writing,” Baron said in an article of USA Today (2003). These are all examples that the use of instant messaging actually changes the way a student reads or types words on a page. For example, IM-speak are perfectly acceptable when instant messaging a friend but on the other hand it is completely unacceptable when writing a formal letter. The same thing is true of formal writing, it is appropriate in an official document, such as a school paper.

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At this point in time, it is not possible to determine specifically the effects of instant messaging on formal writing. However, one clear conclusion is that IM is becoming an important literacy in teenagers’ lives, and consequently one that needs to be recognised by the public. Students need to understand the importance of using the appropriate language in the appropriate setting, and that who one is writing for affects the way in which one writes.


Lee, J. (2002, September 19). I Think, Therefore IM. New York Times

Friess, S. (2003, April 1). ‘Yo, can u plz help me write English?’: Parents fear online chatting ruins kids’ language skills. USA Today

Teenagers ‘spend an average of 31 hours online (2009). Retrieved March 19, 2010, from

Girl writes essay in text message talk (2003). Retrieved March 19, 2010, from

Linguists mixed on effects of text messaging (2003). Retrieved March 19, 2010,from

Literature review

According to Lee, J the frequent use of instant messaging does have an effect on the academic writing of students because they use it so much that they cannot see the difference in when to use it and when not to.

Also Friess, S states that since students are using instant messaging so much that teachers have to unteach what they are writing back into Standard English.

Between Lee, J and Friess,S they both are saying that heavy or frequent use of instant massaging can and will affect a student’s way to communicate in his or her day-to-day life on social activates and academic studies.

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