Texts and Twitter make children behave badly, says Sir Terry Pratchett

Twitter: Harmful to children, according to Sir Terry Pratchett

Text messaging and Twitter are harming children’s ability to write proper sentences and making their behaviour worse, a renowned author claims.

Sir Terry Pratchett urged parents today to encourage their youngsters to physically interact more in the hope of making them less aggressive.

The 64-year-old fantasy author, who was diagnosed with a form of Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, said: “Kids now seem unmotivated in school. I think social media is not helping at all, and texting certainly isn’t. You have to have interaction with other people.

“When people text me stuff I just think, ‘I’m not going to bother with that’. Shakespeare went to a lot of trouble for our language, and now you’ve knocked away half of the consonants.

“If you have a wide vocabulary you can think different thoughts. It stops you getting frustrated. If you have the words to identify exactly what you mean, you can get your message across and I’m sure this is linked to rough behaviour.”

Sir Terry, who has sold more than 65 million books and was speaking at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards, added: “I have an industrialist thing where if a kid comes to see me and can look me in the face, shake hands, sit down in their chair and know how to look at someone - it doesn’t matter what kind of accent he’s got. If he can make himself heard and make me laugh and tell me a joke, if you can do that I’d probably give him any kind of job I’ve got going.”

Educational psychologist Dr Kairen Cullen agreed that social media and texting could harm a child’s interpersonal skills.

She said: “He is making some big claims, although there are counter-arguments too. New media increases access for lots of children, but on the other hand it doesn’t give them the experience of face-to-face contact. We only get good at this with lots of practice.

“There is this immediate gratification element to new media - it doesn’t allow children to build up patience and time-keeping. It’s a mixed picture.

“Although there is a lot of research into this, more needs to be done.

“I think his points are interesting too and clearly there is an enormous place for them. We can understand youngsters wanting time out from the constraints of formal English.

“One of the biggest jobs schools have is to tackle the appropriate use of new media."


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