Cheating today is a lot easier than it was a decade ago. It’s not because Little Sally is much more likely to show Little Timmy her homework assignment before school today than she would have been in the past. Nor is it because school districts feel pressured to attain high standardized test scores and let their students cheat in order to do so – although this has happened. Instead, the main reason that it is much easier for today’s students to cheat is sitting right in front of you right now: the Internet and technology.
Studies confirm this increasing trend in the number of cheaters: 80 to 85 percent of students have cheated at least once by the time they graduate high school. Until they reach the second grade, most of this cheating does occur in the traditional ways, but once they reach third grade, many are turning to the Internet to cheat. Internet plagiarism is on the rise, as is cheating with a cell phone. Students can text each other answers during a test, look up the answers to a problem on their smartphones, or take a picture of an exam and send it to a friend who has not taken the test yet.
So what are concerned parents to do about this problem? How can they keep their kids from becoming cheaters? The answer might be to start combating the issue while children are still young.
“You want to get good behavioral habits established while moral reasoning is developing and deepening,” said Thomas Lickona, Ph.D. and author of Raising Good Children and Character Matters – How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgement, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues. “There’s research to suggest that even young children are more sophisticated and morally observant than we might give them credit for.”
Another thing parents should do if they do not want their kids to cheat is to not put as much pressure on the kids to get top marks on every paper, project, and exam. If students feel too much pressure, they are likely to do whatever it takes to make a certain grade, and that includes cheating.
“There’s such a natural tendency for parents to say, ‘Let me see your work,’ and look at the grade,” said Eric Anderman, Ph. D. Anderman teaches educational psychology at Ohio State University. “My number one advice for them is, instead of saying ‘How did you do on the spelling test?’ ask ‘What did you learn?’ Or ‘What new really cool math thing did you do in class this week?’”
By taking the pressure off of the grade that a child earns and instead turning the attention to what the child actually learned, parents can help their kids stay motivated even if they do not earn an “A” on everything. Because in the end, isn’t knowledge really the most important thing?