Teaching to Generation Text…

There is little question that the current generation of students, especially those in middle and high school, are very much “wired.”  Odds are if you teach or know a pre-teen or teen they are very likely engaged on their phone, Ipad, phone, computer, something connected to the web and their ever-growing social circle.

To prove this staggering reality Lab42.com questioned 500 Americans between the ages of 13 and 21.  the results of their texting survey are below.

Check out this post, produced by Lab42:

Texting is everywhere: the group of friends at a restaurant engrossed in their smartphones with thumbs going a mile a minute, the co-worker smiling down at their phone during a meeting, and you’ve probably bumped into the person who was trying to text while getting off the bus (or maybe you’ve been that person). But when I think about who texts the most, it’s the tech-savvy generation of youngsters that instantly comes to mind. At Lab42, we decided to get the scoop on this finger flying phenomenon from the experts – today’s teens.

For this infographic, Lab42 surveyed 500 Americans between the ages of 13 and 21 to find out the details on their texting habits. The survey uncovered some surprising results. Check out the infographic below to see how much teens are texting, who they’re sending messages to, and if they’re multi-tasking while their thumbs are typing away.

About the Survey

This survey was conducted online via social networks from June 9th to 16th, 2011 among 500 Americans between the ages of 13 and 21. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.  For complete survey methodology, please contact us at info@lab42.com.

So if these kids represent the true average (and I have a feeling they do) then this survey speaks volumes to the ways in which we need to consider how we teach our students.  In New York there is the almost age-old adage “don’t teach to the test.”  While it is simpler said then done not to do that – with the test scores meaning so much (especially for teachers in NYC) it is hard not to.  

That said, should the new adage be “teach to the text?”  Should we really be reconsidering the ways in which we teach our students.  Personally, I think so.  

Our students are used to communicating in a written way.  A way in which short sentences, abbreviations and acronyms are very much part of their every day reality.  (And lets face it – before you says “we need to teach them how to talk,” think about how much communication you do via email – and think about which emails you prefer – my guess is it is the short ones with quick questions or statements that are easy to read and respond too.)

Look at the stats.  34% of the kids surveyed spend less then 15 minutes talking on their phone.  71% of them prefer texting over talking.  Why?  My guess is the same reason I do – I can carry out multiple conversations at my convenience and the convenience of the other people on multiple topics.  In turn I get more done, prioritizing who needs what when.

More interesting to me is the fact that 14% of the kids that responded say they do most of their texting in class.  So if that is a reality, then instead of forcing the kids to hide their phones, not let them text, call them out when they do and start a war of words, why not just converse with these students in the modality that best works for them – via text.  

Also to take note is the fact that 52% of boys use apps for games while 56% of girls use apps for social networking.  Clearly, girls are spending more time socializing and boys are still being boys and playing which is not much different then the way I remember it.  They just are doing it differently.

In general, it may be time to consider the best ways in which we communicate with our students.  The natural thing for use to do as teachers is talk to them, but maybe we need to really think about whether they are truly listening and come up with new ways to communicate that get to the heart of Generation Text’s success.  Instead of complaining that kids these days don’t listen maybe it is us as adults who are not listening to them because they are quite clear with how they communicate, it seems it is us who is not hearing them.



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