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OnderzoekOnderzoek Faculteit der LetterenOnderzoeksinstitutenCenter for Language and Cognition

CLCG colloquium: Lieke Verheijen & Wilbert Spooren

Wanneer:do 18-01-2018 12:00 - 12:45
Waar:Harmonie 13.15.0043

Lieke Verheijen & Wilbert Spooren - What’s Up with WhatsApp? The Impact of Computer-Mediated Communication on Dutch Youths’ Writings

This presentation provides a synthesis of research into the impact of computer-mediated communication (CMC) on literacy. Since the informal language used by youths in CMC often deviates from Standard Dutch, social media are feared to have a negative impact on youths’ more formal literacy skills. We conducted two large-scale empirical studies to examine whether social media indeed affect the writings of Dutch youngsters at school or in university.

First, we carried out a correlational study, with 400 participants of different educational levels and age groups. Participants wrote essays to test their writing skills and filled in questionnaires to measure their CMC use. Results revealed that passive engagement with CMC, by heavy reliance on one’s mobile phone and consumption of social media messages, negatively relates to writing skills, whereas active and creative production of language via CMC – via various genres, from an earlier age, with many people, and including textisms – is positively related to writing skills. Moreover, lower educated youths’ writing turned out to be most at risk of being affected, but could also benefit most from social media.

Next, we conducted an experiment with 500 participants. Each class was divided into two groups: experimental groups spent fifteen minutes chatting via WhatsApp, while control groups coloured mandalas. Subsequently, all participants wrote stories and completed grammaticality judgement tasks, to test their productive and perceptive writing skills. The use of WhatsApp turned out to have no direct impact on performances on the writing tasks. Implications and suggestions for further research will be discussed.