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Cheating for $50.95 Per Month (plus roaming)

by Adam Finley
art/Marty Kelley

Hy bo! M2 H WW thr frst blnb grp 243 X23 klp gfd wp?

If the line above looks to you like so much gibberish, then you've obviously never received a text message before. Text messaging is a shorthand method of written communication sent and received over cell phones or other electronic devices. The sample above either reads "Yes, I'd love to join you for a waffle brunch" or "Oh my god, send help, I'm being stabbed to death."

Generation Y has latched on to this new method of communicating in a manner unseen by any other generation. They may send messages like "@6III PNGA #%%?" Translation: "Did you see Becky's hair today?" or "(&)Ump!Y2p2" Translation: "Did you mean Becky Harrison or Becky Fenborough? Because I didn't see either one of them today." They can also use their cell phones to take pictures of people and objects, completely ridding themselves of the need to look around.

Cell phone use among young adults has so far been relatively harmless, but a few have used these devices for insidious ends, such as cheating on high school and college exams. They use their cell phones to take pictures of their class notes, or to text message the answers to one another. This ingenious and almost foolproof method of cheating is eclipsed only by the simple fact that if they didn't spend their entire day on their cell phones, they'd be smart enough to pass their exams. It is a credit to the young generation that they've achieved a level of stupidity that allows them to be this clever.

Nevertheless, more and more schools are cracking down on cheaters. Many teachers and professors have begun banning cell phones from their classes entirely. While I certainly understand the reasoning behind this, I don't think it's a good idea, because kids have completely lost the ability to communicate verbally.

Imagine the following scenario:

Teacher: Okay, now if you'll all turn your tests over and begin...

Susie: [Raises her hand]

Teacher: Susie, you have a question?

Susie: Um, Y26?

Teacher: What?

Susie: Mx 345 T2 T34???

Teacher: I don't understand.

Susie: TYH BKP MNB 7Y7!!!

Teacher: Did you... huh?

Susie: BV TX LOP 8Y Z33!!! [Blood explodes from her eye sockets, she falls over dead]

What exactly happened there? I have no idea, but if Susie had been allowed to use her cell phone she could have relayed her situation to another student who may have been able to save her life.

Besides saving young girls from ocular hemorrhaging, cell phones have become a kind of lifeline between kids and their parents. The idea of banning cell phones on school premises has many parents–who see cell phones as a way of keeping tabs on their children, and as a way for their children to contact them when they're in trouble–outraged.

The solution will not be an easy one. Schools want to cut down on cheating, but taking away students' cell phones will cause them to regress to a troglodytic state in which communication is reduced to incoherent mumblings and a childlike code of disconnected symbols. In other words, it will be exactly like it is now, except it won't be digital. Educators will rage, but the slow march toward ignorance will not be deterred, and with the right amount of conviction and parental encouragement, these bright-eyed youngsters will achieve a profound level of mediocrity that the next generation can only hope to emulate, possibly by jabbing each other with sticks.

Email your feedback on this article to editor@impactpress.com.

Other articles by Adam Finley: