The impact of WhatsApp on Dutch youths' school writing and spelling
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The impact of WhatsApp on Dutch youths' school writing and spelling

L. Verheijen & W. Spooren
(2021 - accepted for publication)

Journal of Writing Research

This paper examines whether use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and non-standard informal written language therein harms youths' literacy skills. An experiment was conducted with 500 Dutch youths of different educational levels and age groups to assess if social media use affects their school writings. It was measured if chatting via WhatsApp directly impacts youths' performance on a narrative writing task, in terms of writing quality and spelling, or their ability to detect and correct deviations from the standard language in a grammaticality judgement task. WhatsApp use had a direct effect on the story writing task, but only on participants' spelling: adolescents who were primed with WhatsApp immediately beforehand produced significantly fewer misspellings in their narratives. The present study thus gives no cause for concern about negative transfer from social media to school writing: if anything, CMC use may provide youths with greater orthographic awareness and positively affect their spelling performance.


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