Internet chatrooms and social networking sites are encouraging children to spell words incorrectly, new research suggests.
A paper released by the English Spelling Society concludes that the internet has revolutionised the English language, and made misspelling the norm.
As people type at speed online, there is now a "general attitude" that there is no need to correct mistakes or conform to regular spelling rules, it says.
But this means that children who have been brought up with the internet do not question wrongly spelt words.
The study says: "The increasing use of variant spellings on the internet has been brought about by people typing at speed in chat rooms and on social networking sites where the general attitude is that there isn't a need to correct typo's or conform to spelling rules."
Report author Lucy Jones, a former student at Manchester University, said: "We are now witnessing the effect these linguistic variations are having on children born into the computer age with such a high level of access in and out of schools. They do not question their existence."
The paper, which surveyed a group of 18-24-year-olds as part of the research, found that the majority believe that unconventional spellings are used on the internet because it is faster and has become the norm.
More than one in five (22%) said they would not be confident in writing an important email without referring to a dictionary or spell checker.
Despite the widespread use of so-called "variant" spelling, almost a third (31%) of those questioned said that alternative non-standard spellings are "completely unacceptable."
Two thirds (66%) believe that dictionaries should contain variant spellings.
Jack Bovill, Chair of the English Spelling Society, said: "Accurate spelling is of the utmost importance, but from this most recent survey we can conclude that the unprecedented reach and scale of the internet has given rise to new social practices and it is now an agent in spelling change."
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