Publication Date

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Communication and Training

First Advisor

David Rhea, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michele McMaster, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Marilyn Yirku, M.A.


Text messaging has been criticized for a perceived negative impact on spelling skills of students and its increasing appearance in formal school papers. This paper presents a study of the effects of text messaging on the spelling skills of ninth and 12th grade students at a U.S. high school in a Chicago suburb. The 20 students – six in the ninth grade group and 14 in the 12th grade group – were given a questionnaire concerning their texting practices and a grade-appropriate spelling test. They also were asked if it is appropriate to use textisms in formal writings and to write a formal email to their principal. The use of texting showed no significance on spelling, either for high/low text groups or long/short history groups. I did find a spelling significance between ninth graders and 12th graders. All students responded that textisms are not appropriate for formal papers, though one student used two textisms in his formal note. This study should inform future research into the effect of text messaging on the spelling skills of U.S. youth given the scarcity of research on the subject.