I read an interesting article by Steve Friess at USA Today online about spelling and grammar problems that some kids are having due to spending so much time writing in instant messaging shorthand. The article asks whether or not the many shortcuts used in instant messaging are leading kids to start writing like that all the time (e.g. "2 b R not 2 b"), and gives several examples. The article leaves open for discussion whether kids are really "destroying their ability to write properly", or whether they can manage writing in two different languages. I read about the USA Today article in the WXPnews e-zine, which has a nice summary of this question in the current issue.
What I think is that kids who read a lot of books, whether or not they spend time instant messaging, will have an advantage. Book-reading kids will, hopefully, continue to see proper spelling and grammar in the books that they read. This will help them to develop an unconscious recognition of the right way to write. I know that for me, someone who read constantly as a child, spelling and grammar tend to flow pretty naturally. Writing always comes more easily to those who read. Writing standard English, rather than IM shorthand, is bound to come more naturally to the kids who read books than to the kids who don't. I'll talk about other reasons why you should want your kids to love books in future articles. Thanks for reading! -- Jen