Writing, Technology and Teens: New Study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the National Commission
A national survey released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the National Commission on Writing reveals that teenagers see benefits to using technology to write and say they would welcome even more writing instruction. Teenagers and their parents uniformly believe that good writing is a bedrock for future success, according to the report, Writing, Technology and Teens.
Eight in 10 parents believe that good writing skills are more important now than they were 20 years ago, and 86 percent of teens believe that good writing ability is an important component of guaranteeing success later in life.
Most teens, 87 percent, use some kind of electronic personal communication. Yet 60 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds said they do not think of these forms of communication as “writing.”
College Board President Gaston Caperton said, “Because of the dramatic changes in writing that have resulted since the advent of the Internet and mobile devices, we thought it was worthwhile to partner with Pew on this research project so that we — and the nation — would have a better understanding of how teens and their parents view writing.”
Teens also say that they would like to write better; in fact, 82 percent of teens say they think their writing would improve if teachers had them spend more class time writing. African Americans and those from lower-income households are the most ardent believers in the importance of writing and in the likely payoff of more class time devoted to it.
Commenting on her research, Amanda Lenhart, a senior research specialist at the Pew Internet Project who co-authored the report, said, “There is a raging national debate about the state of writing and how high-tech communication by teens might be affecting their ability to think and write. Those on both sides of the issue will see supporting data here. There is clearly a big gap in the minds of teenagers between the ‘real’ writing they do for school and the texts they compose for their friends. Yet, it is also clear that writing holds a central place in the lives of teens and in their vision about the skills they need for the future.” The Pew Internet & American Life Project is nonpartisan and does not advocate for any policy outcome or policy change.
All teens do at least some writing for school, and 50 percent say that they write something for school every day. However, most writing assignments are short: 82 percent of teens say their typical writing assignment is a paragraph to one page in length. Teens also write for fun, with 93 percent saying they write for themselves outside of school at least occasionally.