Irish Government Blames Text Messaging for Teen Illiteracy

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Ireland's youth are becoming increasingly poor spellers and writers, and their love of text messaging on cell phones is a major reason why, according to the government's Education Department.

In a report published Wednesday, the department's Examination Commission said cutting-edge communications technology has encouraged poor literacy and a blunt, choppy style at odds with academic rigor.

"Text messaging, with its use of phonetic spelling and little or no punctuation, seems to pose a threat to traditional conventions in writing," according to the report, based on national test results in English for about 37,000 students aged 15 and 16.

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The report branded today's teens "unduly reliant on short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary."

Too many test-takers, it said, were "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 cell-phone use — in part because of traditionally high costs for conventional phone lines — and surveys indicate that a majority of children have their own mobile phone by age 12, with the most enthusiastic texters sending more than 250 a week.