Analysis by the Oxford University Press of the words submitted by children for the BBC’s 500 Words competition has uncovered ‘hashtag’ to the the “children’s word of the year”

Experts at OUP (Oxford University Press) analysed more than 120,421 short stories by children between the ages of five and 13, who submitted entries for the BBC’s 500 Words competition, and discovered that the use of the hashtag symbol # was the most common occurring word in the stories.

Children used the symbol to add extra meaning or emotion to their sentences, for example #interesting…

The report also revealed that the way children are using the English language is changing significantly, and dependent on the technology around them. Words including ’email’, ‘mobile’ and ‘Facebook’ are in decline, while ‘Instagram’, ‘Snapchat’ and ’emoji’ are on the rise.

Other words on the technological endangered list are iPod, mp3 and Blackberry. In their place are ‘iPhone’, ‘WhatsApp’ and messaging site ‘ooVoo’, while the word ‘television’ has been replaced by ‘phone’. 

Vineeta Gupta at the Oxford University Press told the BBC: “This has been a significant change in usage in this year, 2015.

“Children have extended its [#] use from a simple prefix or as a search term for Twitter to an editorial device to add drama or comment.”

One of the most common plotlines in the short story competition was achieving sudden internet fame after posting a YouTube video. Stories revolved around how many hits, shares and likes they were receiving for their own videos. 

The contest winners will be revealed on Friday on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 live from St James’s Palace. The DJ has enlisted the support of the Duchess of Cornwall.

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