New research funded by the British Academy has found that children who use mobile phone text abbreviations are unlikely to be problem spellers and readers. In fact, it revealed that more sophisticated literacy skills were needed for 'textism' use.
Dr Clare Wood, who carried out the research, said "We began studying in this area initially to see if there was any evidence of association between text abbreviation use and literacy skills at all, after such a negative portrayal of the activity in the media. We were surprised to learn that not only was the association strong, but that textism use was actually driving the development of phonological awareness and reading skill in children. Texting also appears to be a valuable form of contact with written English for many children, which enables them to practice reading and spelling on a daily basis. If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it."
The research was carried out on a sample of 8-12 year olds over the course of an academic year. [PDF report]