At the Pew Internet and American Life Project, we recently published a report titled Writing, Technology and Teens, which considered the impact of informal writing styles, as commonly found in the infinite number of shorthand conversations young people have each day over text messaging and IM. The primary question we wanted to answer with this research was if these informal writing styles, which make liberal use of writing shortcuts such as acronyms (e.g., LOL, ROFL, BRB, etc.); abbreviations (e.g., "cu2nite", meaning "see you tonight"); and emoticons, such as the recently-turned-10-years-old smiley face, had any effects on teens' more formal writing, such as what was required from them in a school environment.
As Nicole recently wrote, the results from this research reveal that while most teens do not consider these forms of interaction as "writing," the habits developed in quick messaging conversations do bleed into their more formal, school-based writing. Since I considered the communication habits of college students for my master's thesis work, I thought it might be interesting to look at the questions posed in our teens' research in light of my data on a slightly older crowd. Below is a cross-post that I have also published on Pew's website; the original post can be found here.