"Hw r u?" uses of ICT among adolescents with SLI

Specific language impairment (SLI) is a developmental disorder affecting approximately 7% of the population. It has no known specific cause but recently, longitudinal studies have underlined its pervasive nature and its effect on young people’s language / literacy abilities and, importantly, their social relationships.

In addition to face to face communication, contemporary young people interact and develop peer relationships via the use of ICT, for example, mobile phones and the internet. There is evidence that enthusiastic engagement with new media is associated with positive adolescent development and may help in young people’s education. However, to the applicant’s knowledge, in 2006 there were no studies which directly focused on how adolescents with SLI respond to the array of new media.

This study investigated possible factors in new media use (e.g. types of media use, ease of use, young person’s language / literacy levels) which may affect interpersonal vs. educational uses of ICT in adolescents with SLI. Specifically, the study had three aims:

1. To determine the frequency of use, ease of use, and attitudes towards use of ICT in young people with SLI. Two contexts of ICT use were studied:

  • New media use for interpersonal, communicative purposes
  • New media use for educational, learning purposes.

2. To examine factors that may affect interpersonal and educational uses of ICT in young people with SLI. Specifically, the project examined:

  • The relationship between the formal vs. informal demands of the context (interpersonal vs. educational) and frequency of use, ease of use and attitudes towards use of new media.
  • The relationship between the language/literacy abilities of young people with SLI and new media use.

3. To investigate the possible communicative and social benefits of interpersonal new media as a function of the nature of impairments in SLI. Specifically, the project investigated:

  • The relationship between shyness and sociability and oral vs. text based new media use.
  • The relationship between patterns of friendship in everyday life and oral vs. text based new media use.
Project details



Professor Gina Conti-Ramsden and Professor Kevin Durkin, University of Manchester

Grant amount and duration

1 March 2006 - 31 August 2008



Conti-Ramsden, G, Durkin, K. & Simkin, Z. (2010)  Language and social factors in the use of cell phone technology by adolescents with and without specific language impairment (SLI). Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 53, 196-208.  Download article (PDF)


Conti-Ramsden, G., Durkin, K. & Walker, A.J. (2010)  Computer anxiety: A comparison of adolescents with and without a history of specific language impairment (SLI).  Computers & Education, 54, 136-145.  Download article (PDF)


Durkin, K., Conti-Ramsden, G. & Walker, A.J. (2010)  Computer-mediated communication in adolescents with and without a history of specific language impairment (SLI).  Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 176-185. Download article (PDF)


Durkin, K., Conti-Ramsden, G., Walker, A. & Simkin, Z.  (2009) Educational and Interpersonal Uses of Home Computers by Adolescents With and Without Specific Language Impairment (SLI).  British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27, 197-217. Download article (PDF)