The community is certainly indebted to Drs. Scott Goldberg and David Pelcovitz for supplying empirical evidence for the texting-on-Shabbat phenomenon (Letters, July 1). While at the end of the day, whether around a fifth of teenagers text on Shabbat (as the study suggests) or as many as half (as the newspaper article suggested), it is certainly a significant enough percentage to warrant serious consideration as to how to do deal with it.
Having said that, I believe that three caveats need to be added to the conclusions of the study:
First, besides the 17.7 percent of teens polled who said that they texted, there was an additional 4.7 percent who were ambivalent. I believe that such numbers ought to always be included in the discussion on two levels. First of all, if they are ambivalent, it is reasonable to assume that they have at some point texted on Shabbat. Second of all, even if our students are just ambivalent about such a basic form of chillul Shabbat [desecration of Shabbat], we ought to be profoundly troubled.
Additionally, the study stated that 16-year-olds are the most likely to text on Shabbat. I have been unable to ascertain the exact percentage, but think that that is the percentage that we should be using for our discussions. If the percentage of 16-year-olds is significantly higher, let’s say 30 percent for argument’s sake, it means that 30 percent will be texting before they graduate high school. As such, we should not be comforted by the fact that a smaller percentage text in ninth and 10th grade.
Finally, the survey was done over several years and of course any survey of this size will take that long. However, this is, sadly, a growing phenomenon and as such, I think that one could argue that any data from before the past year is already outdated.