Survey: Kids Using Devices in School for More than Just Learning

devices in school

August marks the start of a new school year and with that comes new concerns for parents of digital kids. One of which, a new survey reveals, is device-driven cheating in the classroom.

Gone are the days of straining to look over your neighbor’s shoulder to get a look-see at a tough equation. Cheating has evolved and digital devices — now commonplace in education — are at the center of that evolution.

A recent McAfee survey, Cybersecurity 101: Teens in the Classroom, reveals that 86% of students spend at least one hour per day using an internet-connected device during school hours for school-specific work and 57% spend three or more hours per day.

The study, that queried more than 3,900 high school students (grades 9-12) around the world, also revealed a concerning digital reality: Almost half of the students surveyed (47%) claim to have seen or heard of another student using a connected device in the classroom to cheat on an exam, quiz, project or another assignment. While students are quick to point out other students’ cheating habits, only 21% admitted to doing it themselves.

While cheating in school isn’t anything new, the ease of cheating via smart phones adds a whole new dimension to the problem. Since devices and learning are forever intertwined, here are a few tips to help coach your kids on using their technology wisely in the classroom. Here are a few tips to help your family get proactive about curbing  the temptation to cheat. Here are just a few suggestions to help kids use devices wisely in the classroom.

7 Ways to Help Kids Use Devices Wisely in the Classroom

Create a school-specific family contract. Create a contract that outlines expectations for device use at school. The agreement could include: Staying focused in class, being kind to others online, following school cyber security guidelines, being mindful of  your and others’ privacy, and never using a device to cheat on work — be it classwork, homework, projects, or exams. Integrate into your contract words such as integrity, honesty, and personal accountability to focus your child on the unrivaled rewards of one’s hard work.devices in school

Collaborate with teachers. Maximize your parent-teacher meetings and back-to-school time. Ask each teacher about device use in the classroom. Each teacher’s curriculum and device integration may vary. Ask how students use devices in the classroom and what safeguards are in place to minimize cheating. You may be surprised how open teachers are about the issue of cheating and how creative cheating methods have become. Explore how you can specifically work with the school to help your child succeed in a device-driven classroom.

Get to the root of the issue. Kids at every grade level cheat for different reasons. Some cheat out of pressure to maintain a high GPA, others for the thrill of getting away with it. Some cheat because they are struggling in a subject and embarrassed to ask for help. Others may cheat because they claim “everybody does it.” Discuss the temptations, risks, and realities of cheating with your child. If you can talk through some of these potential motives, you may be able to head off any temptation to cheat.

The hidden costs of cheating. Cheating is an intentional act of dishonesty that allows a student to gain an unfair academic advantage. One hidden cost of cheating is the toll it takes on a student’s emotions. The effort required to cheat can be exhausting. In addition, the knowledge that one has fraudulently achieved a grade or reward can cause feelings of low self esteem. After all, cheating at its core is lying, stealing, and faking — behaviors that often perpetuate shame.

devices in school

Cheating = learning gaps. Cheating kids can become cheating adults. Even if a child gets away with cheating in middle or high school, it can catch up with them in college or a career field when the necessary knowledge simply isn’t there. Cheating creates a learning gap that will show itself sooner or later. While this is tough for kids to imagine, it’s a big reason not to cheat.

Stay calm and listen. It’s not easy to learn your child has cheated or routinely cheats. But, if this is the case, it’s important to hear your child out if you sincerely hope to change his or her behavior. Gather the facts before you react. Some questions you might ask: What has been tough about this class? What stresses you out most about your next test? How much preparation are you putting in before tests? What do you think could help you catch up or even gain an edge in this class?

Set expectations, consequences. Discuss your expectations of integrity in the classroom and make consequences clear. If your child cheats, as painful as it is, require him or her to confess to the teacher and any other students involved. The teacher will likely have a standard punishment for cheating (such as an automatic F) or, depending on the circumstances and severity of the situation, the teacher may even offer a way to repeat the work honestly.

No doubt, technology is a permanent fixture in education. Next week we’ll continue this series on Cybersecurity 101: Teens in the Classroom, and how schools and parents can work together to ensure device-devoted kids stay safe in the classroom. 


Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee

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