/ 25 April 2007

SMSing takes its toll on Irish youth

The youth of Ireland are becoming increasingly poor spellers and writers, and their love of SMSing on cell phones is a major reason why, according to the Education Department.

In a report published on Wednesday on national test results in English for about 37 000 students aged 15 and 16, the department’s Examination Commission says cutting-edge communications technology has encouraged poor literacy and a blunt, choppy style at odds with academic rigour.

”Text messaging, with its use of phonetic spelling and little or no punctuation, seems to pose a threat to traditional conventions in writing,” says the report written by the department’s chief examiner, whose identity is kept confidential to safeguard the integrity of tests.

The report brands today’s teens ”unduly reliant on short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary”.

Too many test-takers, it says, are ”choosing to answer sparingly, even minimally, rather than seeing questions as invitations to explore the territory they had studied and to express the breadth and depth of their learning and understanding”.

Ireland is among the world leaders in cellphone use — in part because of traditionally high costs for conventional phone lines — and surveys indicate that a majority of children have their own cellphone by age 12, with the most enthusiastic SMSers sending more than 250 a week. — Sapa-AP