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Twitter boosts literacy, claims Margaret Atwood

8th December 2011

Man Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood has claimed that Twitter and social media in general are helping to boost literacy levels by encouraging people to read more.

The Canadian author, who scooped the Booker Prize in 2000 for The Blind Assassin, said the emergence of Twitter has resulted in many people becoming dedicated readers of tweets and this is having a particularly positive effect on teenagers.

Speaking to CBS News in the US, she alluded to one man who writes 140-character short stories every day and now has thousands of followers, pointing out that this highlights how social media and the internet are not having the 'dumbing down' effect on young people that some critics claim.

'Thanks to the rise of the internet and of social media, I would say that reading, as such, has increased. And reading and writing skills have probably increased because what all this texting and so forth replaced was the telephone conversation,' Atwood explained.

As people have to be able to read and write to use the internet, it is 'a great literacy driver' if young people are given the tools and the incentive to learn the skills that allow them to access it, she added.

Earlier this year, Carol Ann Duffy told the Guardian that posting on social media sites and sending text messages are forms of poetry.

According to the poet laureate, these methods of communication help youngsters to develop their literary skills and enable teenagers in particular to 'condense their thoughts' in a similar manner to how they would construct a poem.

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