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Teens Use Cell Phones To Cheat At School


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

A significant number of teenagers in the United States admit that they are using the Internet to cheat, according to a new national poll, conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group. The survey also found that 35 per cent of teens use their cell phones to boost test scores or school grades.

Nearly 65 per cent of all teens who took part in the survey, reported that they had heard or seen other students using cellular phones to cheat at school. And what is very interesting, many of them do not even think that they are doing something wrong. While about 40 per cent said that sneaking a peek at notes stored on a cell phone is not a right thing to do, and called it a serious offense, almost 25 per cent of those surveyed said that they do not consider it cheating at all, according to the poll.

The poll included interviews with more than 1,000 children with the ages between 13 and 18 years and the same number of parents with children in grades 7 through 12. Many parents appeared to be very naive in thinking that while other kids cheat, their own do not. According to the findings, 92 per cent of parents believe that cellular phone cheating takes place at their kids' schools, but only 3 per cent said they believe that their own child has ever used a device for cheating purposes. Also, 79 per cent of parents say that many teens download papers from the Internet and present it as their own, but only 7 per cent believe that their own child has ever done this.

The study authors wrote that parents are quite ready to believe that mobile phone cheating is even more widespread than teenagers themselves believe, but, what is very interesting, almost no one wants to believe or admit that their child could be the culprit.

Before the existence of such sophisticated gadgets , cheating was much simpler, with students passing notes or information in the halls between classes or writing crib notes. Now, cheating includes tactics such as storing notes on the telephones for reference during exams and sending each other text messages, sharing answers during exams or while taking tests.

Teens also said that they were using smart phones to browse the Web when searching for answers during exams, also that they used the devices to send pictures of tests to their friends whose tests or exams for the same class were scheduled later in a day. The phones are small, skinny and often silent - quickly accessed and easily hidden. "The technology increases the burden on teachers to police students," said Gentle Blythe, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Unified School District.

Many schools have banned the use of cell phones and other electronic devices on their facilities, but in some cases parents and students have lobbied to change those policies in order to maintain family communication. Children with cell phones typically send 440 text messages on a weekly basis, with 110 of those digitized missives being turned off during classes, according to the study. Teenagers themselves reported that they routinely ignored bans on cellular phone use at school.

The poll, which found that 84 per cent of the surveyed teenagers owned cell phones, was carried out online in May and June and had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

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