When I was a senior in high school, I was so stressed that no amount of yoga, tea, or silence could calm my nerves. My mind was littered with grades, organizations, and college and financial concerns—weighing one incomprehensible amount of debt against another, or remembering which school’s food tasted better on a campus tour. It is from this personal experience that I know how, in the most emotionally turbulent years of their lives, high school students are forced to be, and do, so much. Luckily, I was able to survive it with morals intact, but some teenagers crack under the pressure and cede to the dreaded fallback of cheating.
Cheating has entered a new era. While cheating has always been a problem in schools, technology-based cheating is starting to be acknowledged as a problem in school systems around the world. A recently documented example of high-tech cheating that USA Today reporter Greg Toppo discusses is a YouTube video that shows students a way to use a soda bottle to cheat in a classroom. The video instructs the viewer on how to scan a soda bottle label and digitally alter the nutrition facts to store information, such as mathematical formulas. There are also security companies that sell tiny wireless ear buds that can be connected to cell phones and iPods, allowing students to silently call friends and receive answers without leaving the classroom.
Technology has grown so quickly that students are figuring out ways to cheat faster than teachers can learn how to prevent it from occurring. It isn’t even clear how much of this cheating goes undetected. If it is more prevalent than teachers are aware, there is further difficulty addressing and fixing the issue.
I don’t think a solution to the dilemma of high-tech cheating is to forbid technology from the classrooms. To do so would mean ignoring a great learning tool and resource. A potential way to manage and curb cheating is to look at the root of the problem, which is why students cheat in the first place. The primary motivators may be intense pressure to score well above the median or to be as well rounded as possible, and those elements don’t seem to be vanishing anytime soon. These pressures are indicative of the competitive college arena and job market, and as long as the stakes are high, there will be students who cheat. Until the stakes are lowered and the pressures are lessened, teachers will just have to make sure that all exciting gadgets are turned off when the pencils are out.