Device Users not Evil Cheaters?

Antonia Le, Editor-in-Chief

   Let’s be real: for most of us, homework would be impossible without our phones. When we’re stuck on a problem, we text our friends and ask them to send over their work so we can see how they approached the problem. If that doesn’t work, we search the question up online, praying that Yahoo!Answers can enlighten us. With so many resources at our fingertips, teachers are justifiably worried that we’re taking advantage and not learning anything, or even that we’re cheating. But they don’t need to fear; the academic use of phones to complete schoolwork is definitely a double-edged sword, but generally, students know where to draw the line when it comes to schoolwork.

   For many students, online sources are for checking, not cheating. Sophomore Eric Rodriguez said, “Searching a question up online and seeing the answers helps me figure out what to do.” Because of the ease of finding answers and explanations online, some argue that phones and internet access lead to a culture of giving up. After all, why persevere on a problem when the answers are just at your fingertips? Yet to say that students are unwilling to work underestimates them. Many students only use the internet as a last resort. “I search up the answers to a question online in order to see that I got the answer right, but I only do it after I’ve attempted the question myself,” said Senior Christian Ordonio. Phones are a valuable source that can be used to help struggling students see light, if used correctly.

   Sure, some people might see using the internet as an answer source as taking the easy way out, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The ease of finding an answer online can relieve some stress for students. Imagine that you’ve spent an hour on a math problem that you’re not even sure that you’re doing correctly. With just a couple of clicks, you’re online, and you see the answer (and maybe a guide to doing the problem correctly). Your stress is gone. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), 45 percent of teens say that they are heavily stressed by academics. The APA also says that chronic stress can lead to a variety of negative side effects, such as high blood pressure ( If we teenagers want to stay happy, healthy, and on top of our studies, shouldn’t we use all the tools available to us?

   And what about when students take pictures of work and send it to each other? That’s just a way that students can collaborate, provided that they talk about what is being sent instead of just blindly copying it down. According to Cornell University’s Center for Teacher Innovation, collaborative learning can be extremely beneficial (’s no different than sharing and discussing answers in a classroom environment, except it’s done electronically instead of in person.

   You may ask: then where’s the line? What’s the difference between collaborating over text or checking answers and simply cheating? What’s the difference between learning from the resources available to you and not learning at all? The UC High student handbook defines cheating as “requesting, giving or receiving information on an examination, quiz or assignment” ( That’s a very loose definition, and the line is extremely blurry, and some students cross it every day. If you’re a high school student, you’ve probably furiously copied down a friend’s work for an assignment that you didn’t do, mere seconds before your teacher collected it. That’s technically cheating, and you’re definitely not learning anything. Indeed, sometimes even when you’re not cheating, and you actually are trying to do something on your own, you’re not learning. But that’s not necessarily a problem with phones or the internet, that’s a problem with the way students view homework.

   Honestly, these days, many of us would prefer to not learn and get 100 percent on an assignment, than learn and get 50 percent. Even if we turn off the school wi-fi and throw all of our phones into the ocean, that mindset will still be there, and we’ll still do morally dubious things in terms of grades. However, this time, we won’t be able to access resources necessary for vital learning. If students are to learn, then schools need to create an environment that fosters learning instead of grade frenzy.

   Moving forward, we should all think more about how we interact with our phones and the World Wide Web. Both are really powerful tools for good, but if we’re not careful, we could end up becoming the phone-obsessed, evil adolescents almost every think piece ever thinks we are.