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Your Digital Kids

Is It Cheating?

It’s getting harder for kids to discern the difference between cheating and using technology.

I used to write about the “cut and paste your way to an A” phenomena. Kids got so used to cutting and pasting text from the web into their documents that they failed to see the fine line between research and plagiarism.

Now, we’re seeing the same disappearing line with cheating. Kids who use the web, their cellphones, and other electronics as extensions of their brain don’t always see the importance of working without these tools (like on a final exam, for instance).

Research by Common Sense Media indicates that a significant number of kids have used their cellphones during a test or have texted friends about answers. And nearly 40% have indeed copied text directly from the web to turn in as a homework assignment.

Is storing notes on your iPhone a resourceful use of electronic tools or is it cheating? To many of the students surveyed, using cellphone notes was not defined as cheating. And helping your friends by texting them answers? Well that’s just collaboration—another 21st century buzzword.

As we delve into a discussion about 21st century skills, it will be interesting to see which wins out: memorizing the Pythagorean theorem or knowing how to find it when you need it.

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