UK Text Messaging Teens Use Only 800 Words a Day

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Monday, January 11, 2010

UK Text Messaging Teens Use Only 800 Words a Day

A cautionary tale from across the pond...

A generation of teenagers who communicate via the Internet and by text messages are risking unemployment because their daily vocabulary consists of just 800 words, the UK's new children's communication tsar has warned.

Although, according to recent surveys, they know an average of 40,000 words, they tend to favour a "teenspeak" used in text messages, on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and in internet chat rooms like MSN.

One poll, commissioned by Tesco, revealed that while children had the vocabulary to be articulate, the top 20 words they used included  "yeah", "no" and "but" - accounted for about a third of all the words they used.

According to Jean Gross, England's first Communication Champion for Children who started in the post this month, the lack of range will impact negatively on their chances of getting a job.

"Teenagers are spending more time communicating through electronic media and text messaging, which is short and brief," she told The Sunday Times. "We need to help today's teenagers understand the difference between their textspeak and the formal language they need to succeed in life - 800 words will not get you a job."