I was intrigued to see that in Canada they are reporting that the use of social networking and other web tools such as Twitter and Facebook is damaging the quality of students' English skills. Apparently academics at Waterloo University, Ontario and Simon Fraser University, British Columbia are finding that many students (a third and a tenth, respectively) are failing at English, i.e. not up to the standard required for academic writing. And they are blaming young people's use of these social networking tools for this problem.
"Emoticons, happy faces, sad faces, cuz, are just some of the writing horrors being handed in, say professors and administrators at Simon Fraser."
At Coventry University in the UK, however, researchers have found the exact opposite, as reported by the BBC a few days ago. In their study of 8-12 year olds they found that children who regularly use the abbreviated language of text messages are actually improving their ability to spell correctly.