Outside the business world, text messaging has become a popular communication tool...to the peril of grammar and spelling skillsThe rising popularity of text messaging on cell phones poses a threat to writing standards among Irish schoolchildren, an education commission says. The frequency of errors in grammar and punctuation has become a serious concern, the State Examination Commission said in a report after reviewing last year’s exam performance by 15-year-olds.

“The emergence of the mobile phone and the rise of text messaging as a popular means of communication would appear to have impacted on standards of writing as evidenced in the responses of candidates,” the report said, according to Wednesday’s Irish Times.

“Text messaging, with its use of phonetic spelling and little or no punctuation, seems to pose a threat to traditional conventions in writing.” The report laments that, in many cases, candidates seemed “unduly reliant on short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary.” In 2003, Irish 15-year-olds were among the top 10 performers in an international league table of literacy standards compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.