Over time, modern technology has changed how humans communicate. Instead of talking in person, we can text using mobile devices to people on the other side of the world. This has unlocked millions of possibilities for the youth of our world to develop the language to suit how they text, which we have clearly done.
“Language has been the greatest single contribution to understanding and misunderstanding”. As text communication evolves, many people are being left behind and don’t understand what our youth are writing, which leaves me wondering… Are adults communicating via text the same as us teenagers, by using the same features as we do, and are is texting like this as effective for them as it is for teenagers? I am going to compare adult text communication with teenagers and see if there are any similarities?
One way that the youth of this generation are texting is by using emoticons to express the paralinguistic features that aren’t present in text communication. Emoticons or emojis are widely used by the teenagers to show what they are feeling and with the thousands of different options that mobile devices provide us with, we can choose emojis that suit the situation and are not just randomly placed, but instead, they are there to serve a purpose. In a text conversation between teenagers, there is often excessive amounts of emojis used, which can lessen the effectiveness of them but still provide the text partner with a pretty good understanding of what the writer is saying/feeling. For example, in a text conversation between two teenagers, there were 12 emoticons used, the majority was a thumbs up, smiley face or laughing face. These were obviously used to show that something was funny, or say ‘good job’ with the thumbs up emoji. For some teenagers, this number of emoticons is much more or less than what they would text, and the same goes for adults who text with or without emojis. However, when I examined a conversation between my dad and his friend, almost 20 emojis had been used. The emoticons used by adult men were of a completely different style to teenagers. The most common emoji used was unsurprisingly the beer emoji. The smiley face, wink, laughing and the evil grin were the next popular emoticons used. The reasons for using these different emojis was because a simple smiley face didn’t convey enough, in this case, they were planning to do something involving beer ( thus the winking, beer and evil grins that were used multiple times). In this case, the adults were using emojis to a better effect than the teenagers, and placing them methodically instead of random.
I know that this is not the same for all adults and teenagers who are texting, and could be only because of the type of adults I examined and their nature therefore I cannot make an assumption for the whole population that all adults are like this but this far into my analysis and I’m being pointed towards the idea that adults are catching on and using the latest texting features to their advantage, and in some cases, more effective than teenagers.
The next feature that young people are using more and more of, is how teenagers use initialisms to speed up the time it takes to send the text message. For example, ‘wud’ is common and for teenagers, it translates to ‘what you doing’ or ‘what are you doing’ in short. ‘Hby?’ means ‘How about you?’ and ‘idk’ means ‘i don’t know’. These are all common features of teenagers text conversation. But, is it the same for adults? My first assumption is no, because I don’t text initialisms to my parents, because they don’t understand the meaning, and I have to explain it to them. After going through some text conversations with friends of mine, and with adults, I have never received a message from an adult that says ‘ Wud?’, but every second conversation starts with that from a teenager. This feature of texting has possibly gone over the heads of our adults, and is only used by youth.
The last feature I want to compare with is the use of logograms in text conversation. A logogram is when you use single letters or numbers to replace sections of words. An example is a text conversation with two teenagers, where 7 logograms were used, in the space of 7 line conversation. Most were a ‘u’ which is not uncommon. In comparison, when adults are texting only the occasional ‘u’ is used, and not to the extent that the youth are using.
In most cases, adults are not using the same text communication features that teenagers are using, but there is one exception that I found. Emoticons are the part of our text language that adults are picking up on, and using more efficiently, which surprised me. However, for the most part, the way the text language has evolved, adults are being left behind.