The Sneaky Life of the American Teenager [Teen Article]

Dana is a 15-year-old from Scarsdale, NY. She enjoys reading, playing tennis, and watching Friends.

Teens have always found ways to cheat, but the tools available to them today are more powerful than ever before. Rather than scribbling the answers on hands in ink or passing notes in the middle of a test, teens are employing their cell phones to cheat during tests. A new survey found that over one third of teenagers in the U.S. will use their cell phone to cheat in school. Whether it’s texting other teens the answers during tests or using notes stored on phones, teens’ cheating via the digital world is becoming much more rampant.

Cell phones these days are small and silent, rendering them easy to access and hide. Sneaky teens hide their cell phones in their pencil cases, pants’ pockets, or backpack pockets. For in-class exams, students can easily take advantage of the internet access available on Blackberries and iPhones. They can browse the web to search for the answers to the exams. Additionally, teens can use their phones to take pictures of the exams and send it to their friends who will take the same test later in the day.

Technology does not blur the line between right and wrong; cheating is cheating. The worst part is that many teens don’t think that they’re doing anything wrong. Some students feel that physically looking at another student’s exam constitutes cheating whereas texting the answer to a test question is merely ‘helping out a friend’.

It is challenging for teachers and faculty to penalize students because the digital world is mostly anonymous and difficult to monitor. However, some schools have decided to take action and have banned the use of cell phones during the school day. Others have ‘wired’ the school so that there is no cell phone reception on school grounds.

So what’s the solution? Should we eradicate multiple-choice tests in favor of essay questions, as it’s much harder to cheat on an essay question than to cheat on multiple-choice? Should teachers employ oral exams? Should educators spend more time discussing what constitutes plagiarism? Whatever the solution may be, it is clear that more restrictions need to be enacted as cheating via the digital world isn’t going to go away any time soon.

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