I can tell you two things about your hockey players without ever meeting them. First, they are on their smartphone, a lot. Second, balancing homework and hockey is hard for them. There is a great deal of stress associated with balancing it all.
From the second they get home from school until it’s time to get into the car and rush off to hockey practice, it’s a struggle for many hockey moms across the world to get their skaters to hit the books.
Now, many new apps on the market are taking over kids homework responsibilities. Technology has officially become smart enough to help kids cheat on their homework. This is a hockey mom’s nightmare.
No hockey mom in her right mind can deny that getting an education is important. We don’t want our kids cheating just so they can get to the rink. Yes, school can get in the way of hockey (shhh, remember, I am a teacher). But, that work hard play hard mentality is for on and off the ice. School is no exception.
As we gear up for the new school year, here’s a look at a few of the apps that you do not want on your hockey player’s phone.
Hockey Moms’ Beware
Audio Manager, Calculator%, and Vaulty
Audio Manager and Calculator% use their innocuous names to make themselves appear like a harmless app. Calculator% even opens up and looks like a typical calculator app. When the student presses a button within the app, a new screen appears with all of their hidden files.
Vaulty, on the other hand, is a little more obvious. It works by password-protecting your hockey player’s secret “vault.” If someone enters the wrong password, the app even snaps a picture of the person trying to access the hidden files.
You don’t want your skater on the other end of an inappropriate photo scandal. If you see these apps go all hockey mom. Take the phone, and find yourself a good parental control program.
Thus, if their homework calls for them to “show their work,” PhotoMath does the work for them with these step-by-step solutions.
That said, there is some potential learning to be had by this app. It can help a student see each step of the problem and better understand how they arrived at a wrong answer. The app was designed to be a learning tool.
Unfortunately, the cheating potential is there. If your hockey players have this app on their phones, consider monitoring how much they use it. If they seem to be relying on it for every problem, they are likely using it to cheat. But, if they use it as a resource on particularly tough problems, it’s a learning tool that is giving them in-home math help.
For example, they reject blurry or poorly lit images. They discard photos that appear as if they are from underneath a desk where a student might be relying on the app to cheat during a test or quiz. Again, there is some potential learning merit here, but the majority of students are using these apps to take a shortcut to getting their homework done.
Created by a Chinese Internet search company named Baidu, Homework Helper is a crowdsourcing “community” app where students post pictures or post their homework questions. Then, other users can answer the problems and receive points or “e-coins” to be used on purchasing physical goods, even things like laptops and iPhones.
The app has millions of downloads and is being used by students to spend less time on their homework and thinking about the problems. The other drawback to this is the users answering the questions reply hastily, without explaining their answers in much detail. They are just trying to quickly earn these “e-coins.”
Sometimes, their answers aren’t even correct. At least the tutors behind HwPic spend the time to try and foster understanding in the student.
Homework Helper is also one of the only apps that does little to dismiss the notion that they help students cheat. Even one of the app’s staffers said Homework Helper is “kind of cheating.”
Again, the problem with this app and many on the list is it creates a way for students to get their homework done without ever challenging themselves and truly learning.
Tips for Hockey Moms and Homework Apps
The adage that many of these apps use to justify their approach to helping students with homework is, “If students want to cheat, they will always find a way to cheat.” In other words: “It isn’t our fault if people use our “learning tool” to cheat on their assignments.”
For most of the apps, this is simply a means to escape culpability, but there’s some truth to it. Cheating has existed long before apps and smartphones were even an idea. But, as hockey moms, it is our responsibility to stop our kids from cheating as much as possible. We want them to be challenged and learn as much as they can in school.
Some of the tools on this list may have potential to help your child learn. The sad truth is that the majority of students use them to plow through their homework and move onto hockey practice. If you’re worried about your hockey player using smartphone apps to cheat on their homework, it may be best to give them a calculator and hold onto their phone while they get the work done.