Smartphones Quickly Becoming a Cheater's Best Friend

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Smartphones Quickly Becoming a Cheater's Best Friend

school cheating1.jpgWhen it comes to reminiscing about your college heyday, in addition to the stops down Memory Lane which include extracurricular activities, science recitation classes, frat parties and cramped living quarters, you might let out a chuckle or two when you think of how you helped your college roommate nail that thesis paper by rewriting (OK totally writing from scratch) a few of his paragraphs in exchange for being able to borrow his car to hit up the casino for the weekend. After all, it is college and we all do stupid things like stay out till 3 a.m. the night before a final, eat way too much pizza, and occasionally let our best buddy copy our paper for another class. Right?

Well, college campuses today have a contagious cheating epidemic that is quickly spreading, and is only exacerbated by the availability of smartphones and other technologies in class. In fact, according to a recent infographic produced by, 75 percent of coeds admit to cheating at least once during their undergraduate career; 90 percent believe that cheaters won’t get caught; and 85 percent say cheating is necessary to getting ahead.

So how are students making all of this cheating possible? It’s all thanks to their good ol’ trusty iPhones and BlackBerrys, of course. Some of the main ways college students use these devices to cheat are: by texting someone in or outside the class for answers; looking up answers on the phones during bathroom breaks; using a cell phone to take a photo of the test for others; and whipping out their cell phone during the test to check notes saved on the device. Students are also saving notes and formulas on their graphing calculators and being so sneaky as to write notes on the inside brim of baseball caps, have other students take the exam in their place and scribbling down cheat sheets on the inside label of water or soda bottles. Seems like a lot of work when you could just opt to learn the calculus equations yourself, right?

And as students remain glued to their smartphones, teachers need to become a little bit savvier when it comes to catching cheaters, from creating different exams for each student to requesting photo IDs for test takers in large seminar classes, to using software that can detect plagiarism on written essays.  

As much as teachers want to crack down on cheaters – and as much as cheaters should be ashamed about their ways– ultimately, the only person a cheater is harming is him or herself.  For every time a student skimps on completing a reading assignment for his major or asks his buddy to write his thesis paper instead of choosing to articulate his thoughts himself, he is only limiting the scope of what he will learn before he enters the real world.

And newsflash to all your students out there; the real world doesn’t tolerate cheaters. The real world won’t stand for you BS-ing your way through your work assignments or giving 50 percent to your tasks. So better to abandon those cheating tendencies now. I guarantee your co-worker won’t be so willing to finish that sales report for you in exchange for something else.

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