Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Parents and Teachers Beware: Cheating's Gone Hi-Tech!

This evening, I saw a television feature on the local ABC affiliate here in the Miami area. The subject matter got me thinking so I figured I'd write a post about it. It's a topic that I think parents and teachers should be aware of: hi-tech cheating.
The feature was about how teens and other students have incorporated technology into getting an unfair advantage in their studies. Many parents provide their kids with cell phones and smart phones for their convenience. But what some students do is use these wonders of technology as hi-tech cheating machines.
In exams, many students send each other text messages regarding the questions and answers. Whatever happened to the good old days when we'd sneak and pass hand written notes?
Another thing that students have been doing is using search engines such as Google and Yahoo to search for answers during exams. So unless they're adequately monitored, they can go to school totally unprepared for tests and still make 100%, thanks to the marvels of technology.
My view on these matters is that the mindset of cheating in school is timeless. Today, it's the use of smart phones. Back in my school days, it was the use of cheat sheets or writing answers on our palms. Cheating is cheating and it's wrong, however you look at it.
One thing that students don't realize is that when they cheat on exams, they're actually cheating themselves of the opportunity to learn. Sooner or later, cheating in school will prove to be fruitless; cheating in real life, even worse.
Imagine if I cheated in English class; I may not have developed the writing proficiency that allows me to write this blog that's read around the world. Who would have been cheated? I would've been my worst victim.
Our daughter is a 7th grader. She has a smart phone and takes it to school with her. She's had the phone for a while but only as she has demonstrated responsibility with it  have we allowed her to bring it to school. It's quite convenient for us - she calls and sends us text messages regarding normal school issues - i.e. staying after school for a meeting, missed the bus, forgot lunch money, etc.
She knows, however, that as she gets to school, when that morning bell rings, the phone is to be off and it can only be turned on after school. Can we monitor that effectively while she's away from us? Not exactly. That's where the trust factor comes in.
I expect that she knows better than to misuse the phone given to her for her and our convenience. I would also hope that she wouldn't allow anyone to influence her to violate the rules of the school - rules that say that cell phones must me off during school hours.
There have been times that I've taken away her phone privileges for a period in order to teach a lesson that I believe would be to her benefit. And I hope I won't have the need to do it again for any reason.
The title of this post addresses parents and teachers. But as I see it, it's more a lesson for parents. The lessons learned at home are more long-lasting and have greater impact.
Perhaps a necessary follow up after you read this post is to have a heart to heart talk with your kids. It's a conversation that I think can help them to understand the importance of honesty. It starts in the home, then goes to school, and then guides them through life.
If they have cell phones and smart phones, they should understand that having these gadgets is not a right; it's a privilege for their convenience. And if the privilege is abused, as parents, we should always reserve the right to take these devices away until they demonstrate the maturity that it takes to use them responsibly. They might see such acts as cruel punishment but deep within you know it's tough love in action.
Feel free to share this post with your kids. It might be a good introduction to the conversation you have with them. Do ponder these thoughts and take the necessary actions for your kids' benefit.
Enjoy your day.

The Upbeat Dad

1 comment:

  1. I conduct workshops on the "impact of media on families" and am always on the look out for new information. This is a great on-Thanks. Enjoyed your site. I'll definitely share this with my readers and clients.