Hi Tech Cheating – Do Your Kids Do It?

Is this cheating?

Does your teenager have a cell phone? If they do, there is a good chance they are using it to cheat at school according to a new report by Common Sense Media.

Key findings from the report say that more than 1/3 of teens with cell phones admit to having used them to cheat at school, while over 1/2 of all teens admitted to using some form of cheating involving the Internet.

According to the report, we parents are living in denial. Not that this practice exists in schools – 76% of us believe that cell phone cheating is happening in school – but only 3% of us believe our kids are doing it.

Hmmmm, 35% of kids admit to doing it, but only 3% of their parents believe they are doing it. That is a big digital denial divide.

But really the question we as parents need to be asking is not whether our kids are cheating or not (although that is a very important question), but rather what is cheating? Perhaps it is time to take a long hard look at what we think cheating is in the digital age. If we do, then we might come to the conclusion that how we define cheating may actually be hurting our kids.

For example, is it cheating for students to collaborate with their peers to find the answer to problems? 1 in 4 of the students in the survey don’t think so and I tend to agree with them. After all, is this not what we “grownups” do in real life? When we need to figure out a problem, what do we do? We tap into our personal networks and fire up the web. Isn’t collaborating to figure out a solution to a problem something we want to foster in our kids?

And is it so wrong for students to use the most game changing educational tool called the Internet to find answers? I mean, why do we ask kids to  pretend that this massively useful tool does not exist? Why do we insist that they need to be able to work inside a bubble to solve problems?

What I do have a problem with is a student taking someone else’s work and turning it in as their own. That, to me, is my moral threshold. But collaborating with their peers using technology to solve problems? That is something we should be rewarding, not punishing.

I realize this may seem like an extreme position to take, and it is fraught with a whole can of worms that educators have to deal with (not the least of which is how do teachers really assess learning), but I think we need to take a long hard look at how we define cheating in a digital age. If we do then we might just discover that what we think of as cheating is actually an essential skill our kids are going to need to thrive in a digital world.

Photo: Poor Marc Has No Idea She CHEATS! by Mr_Stein used under Creative Commons license.

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19 Responses to Hi Tech Cheating – Do Your Kids Do It?

  1. First of all I would like to find out. Do you think that cheating is so bad. Some parents and teachers consider it some sort of learning: when the child him/herself collects all the most required information into a tiny form.

  2. Excellent Post. mercy

  3. LOl.. That is what I am doing at school, when i was still in college. That is quite normal for students to cheat cos that is already part of their being a student.

  4. I'm a single dad who quit my corporate job to be at home with my daughter. I appreciate your posts and think it's a great blog for me to refer back to. I've just started a blog called raisingafather.blogspot.com (named after a book I'm getting ready to publish) and I'd love to link to one another's since we discuss many of the same issues parents face.

  5. exelent post! mercy!!!

  6. Jeeze… why didn't they have cell phones when I was a teen. We had to pass note or look over one's shoulder to cheat. The advantages today's kids have ;)

  7. I heard a good one from a College teacher last week who had a student
    with tatoos up and down his arms. The student had written test answers
    in among the tattos on his arms. The instructor had a tough time
    catching him cheating, but once he took a close look he saw answers
    mixed in among the tatoos. He said if the student wouldn't have been
    quite so obvious, he would have never known.

  8. I remember reading that Einstein said he didn't memorize his phone number because it was so easy to look up.

    Cheating is certainly not condone, it is also a sign of lack of confidence or self-esteem IMO. Did the teacher do the proper job in preparing the students? Did the parents help the students to learn how to study? Why does the student feel the need to cheat is a better question then just going around saying "bad cheater; bad, bad cheater".

    As for technology, I think the post has it right… it exists so why continue with this "let's make learning hard and un-enjoyable because that builds character" attitude.

  9. OMG!!! what an analysis! Parents refusing !! they t want to protect the interest of their family. It is normal that students cheat but parents shuold know that their child could not be an exemption.

  10. The youths today are very lazy. They use of technology is becoming a crime. I think measures should be taking by school administrators to advoid such scenes and discourage laziness

  11. Cheating has never been a good thing though some people used it to get to the top.

  12. This is not strange. Modern Tech. is full of new tricks and it could be use anywhere by anyone to achieve what you want to achieve if only you know how to use it without being caught.

  13. I have a daughter and I think it is great that she has access to the internet to help her with her work. I can’t see the net disappearing any time soon so the better she gets at navigating it the better equipped she will be for later life. It is very easy to cheat with it though and I have caught her doing just this several times with her homework. In my day the shortcut was plagarism, find little known works of somebody else and copy it word for word. Today the shortcut seems to be copying and pasting, as least when we had to write it out some of it went in. A few months back I noticed she was getting faster and faster at doing her homework. One day I took the finished result off her and asked her to tell me all about it – she didn’t have a clue and her only defence is that it is what everyone else was doing.

  14. I have a daughter and I think it is great that she has access to the internet to help her with her work. I can’t see the net disappearing any time soon so the better she gets at navigating it the better equipped she will be for later life. It is very easy to cheat with it though and I have caught her doing just this several times with her homework. In my day the shortcut was plagarism, find little known works of somebody else and copy it word for word. Today the shortcut seems to be copying and pasting, as least when we had to write it out some of it went in. A few months back I noticed she was getting faster and faster at doing her homework. One day I took the finished result off her and asked her to tell me all about it – she didn’t have a clue and her only defence is that it is what everyone else was doing.

  15. Thats the problem with kids today their enjoying the perks of technology and yet they learn nothing at all. We parents must be vigilant enough to teach our children with their studies not just leave them in front of the computer all the time.

  16. Cheating is part of growing up but I guess kids are prone on cheating because the technology is available to them, Long gone are the times when we used to write the answers on a small piece of paper and hide it in our wrist watch.

  17. I am a little concerned that the parents of these students are seem to shrug off the fact that their children cheat. There are no degrees to cheating. "I only cheated a little…I'm not as bad as someone who cheats a lot". Cheating is dishonest and does the student no good in the long run. Making believe that some cheating once in a while is ok is doing a disservice to our children. Allowing a vehicle for students to cheat in the classroom is only providing a temptation for them to go ahead and cheat.

  18. Hey that is a really clever post. When I read the headline I thought "yeah kidds should not cheat like that " but then when I read your spin on it I changed my mind. I think it is actually showing initiative and pulling on resources, which is actually clever. All great SEO's do just that everyday, they don't have all the answers but they know how to find people that do.

    However blantant copying of other peoples work with no thought, I also disagree with, as that is lazy.

    Thanks for making me think.

  19. As a parent of 2 young boys(5 and 7 years old), I find myself constantly amazed at how quickly the world has changed and how different the schooling has become as a result.

    When I was at school cheating involved a calculator, thesaurus or dictionary along with writing on the back of your hand (not that I was ever gulity of this, or course)

    With the radical change in technological apparatus available to our children, educational structures don't appear to be adjusting to keep up.

    There is nothing to stop a child getting the answer to an algebraic problem from the web, but this is not teaching them how to use their brain to solve problems, or is it?

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