Cheating is a serious problem that strikes at the core of a child's academic success and character development. According to a recent study by our friends at Common Sense Media, kids today are using a new tool to cheat: cell phones.
The study finds that more than a third of teens with cell phones admit to storing information on them to use during a test or texting friends about answers. This is a big deal considering the pervasiveness of cell phones: More than two-thirds of teenagers in this country own a cell phone, according to US Cellular, and most 8- to 12-year-olds will own a cell phone in the next three years, says a report by the Yankee Group.
That kids cheat is not news. The real eye opener is two points made in the Common Sense study:
- Parents don’t think their kids are cheating. While most parents are well aware of cell phone cheating (76% say that it happens at school), they don't believe their kids are doing it (only 3% say their child has ever cheated with a cell phone).
- Children don’t think cheating is wrong. Nearly one in four kids thinks accessing notes on a cell phone or texting friends with answers during a test is acceptable.
So not only are parents in la-la land about whether their children are cheating, but also kids are failing to distinguish right from wrong. Yikes.
Is this the latest manifestation of the so-called Napster generation, which assumes that everything should be free and fully accessible? Or is it simply an example of teaching a young pup new tricks?
The answers to these questions matter less than how parents and teachers respond to this disturbing trend. As James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, stated, “The call to action is clear: Parents and educators have to be aware of how kids are using technology to cheat and then help our kids understand that the consequences for online cheating are just as serious as offline cheating.”
We couldn't agree more. Parents play a vital role in showing children right from wrong and teaching them character traits that will last a lifetime.
Buying your child a cell phone provides a teachable moment, an opportunity to stress the wrongness of cheating and the value of learning. We encourage you to look at Common Sense Media's recommendations for parents.
How are you talking to your kids about cheating? We want to know.