The evolving world of technology is negatively influencing writing skills. Through the years, writing has been one of the primary ways of communication. And while the methods through which writing is conveyed have changed considerably, the purpose of writing in itself remains the same: to effectively communicate information in a clear and coherent manner. The overall purpose of writing is to convey information to others in a way that can be fully understood.

Technology cannot be stifled because it will continue to advance and evolve by the day. However, people need to be aware of the negative role it plays in effective writing. Many young people, and even some elderly ones nowadays find it difficult to differentiate between formal and informal writing, so they end up mixing up both and making a mess of themselves.

For instance, some years back, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) complained that many of those that wrote its examination were very poor in writing, as some of them wrote in a manner that is only acceptable in chat rooms and not in an examination.

Many of the students were abbreviating words and phrases due to the fact that the use of technology has made them lazy. So, we need not look further and wonder why the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has recorded a huge percentage of failures over the years, especially in English language. This is because students would rather spend them typing on their phones in abbreviations they created just to ease them from spelling words and phrases properly.

Today, most students own a computer or laptop with which they make use of the several programmes. For instance, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint are two programmes that assist students with spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. What’s more? These programs are equipped to identify errors and correct those errors with ease – though not by any means perfect. As technology continues to advance, tablets and mobile phones have become increasingly popular within the last few years, making the internet and other programs typically found on a computer, easily accessible.

With the iPod created in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010, people all over the world were consumed with technological advancements regardless of where they lived and what they did on a daily basis. In addition to these technological tools, text messaging became a “must have” for people, with texting as a key tool for quick and easy communication. The advent of text messaging came with its own problems as students started constructing abbreviations that never existed in order to stay within the 160-character limit per page for a text message.

In present day society, you would hardly come across many teenagers who do not have a phone, let alone Instant Messaging (IMs) applications, such as WhatsApp, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Viber, Wechat, etc. These IMs also have to contend with other social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for their attention. With all these applications at hand, students devised a means of being active on them all by using acronyms such as “HBD” in place of “Happy Birthday”. Others are “HNM, GM, LYT, etc,” which stand for “Happy New Month”, “Good Morning” and “Love You Too” respectively.

While technology has certainly advanced itself and become a fundamental aspect of life today, there are several harmful effects that negatively influence students’ writing in the classroom. Students nearly depend on these forms of technology on a daily basis; their constant attachment to these devices reveals that they are academically and socially dependent on them, and require them to excel in both areas. It is difficult for students to leave the house without these items, often stating that when they do, they feel like a “part” of them is missing.

Technology quickens and simplifies tasks for students, yet it has ingrained in them an attitude that they do not have to put effort into anything they write. In addition to texting, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint allow students to type up assignments, papers, and presentations. Thus, students take advantage of the spellcheck and grammar check options to ensure that their work is free of spelling, grammatical, and/or sentence structure errors. Although these options save students’ time and energy, they lower students’ mental energy and decrease their persistence.

Furthermore, students have become so accustomed to taking shortcuts and writing in small bites that they fail to see the purpose of writing, editing, revising, and re-writing, let alone using grammatical precision and appropriate sentence structure. Students do not truly comprehend the writing process because they are depending on these programs to do the job for them without putting any effort into understanding why certain corrections are made.

Technology has become a key component in students’ lives, and because of it, they cannot effectually distinguish informal writing from formal writing. As a result, when students have to undertake formal writing assignments that require actually putting pen, such submissions come with multiple errors and misconceptions.