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Forget crib notes inked on arms under shirtsleeves - that's old-school.

Cheating has gone high-tech, with more than a third of American teenagers saying they use cell phones to boost test scores or grades, and at least half admitting using the Internet to cheat, according to a national U.S. survey released last week.

But the students don't always think it's wrong.

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While about 40 per cent say sneaking a peek at notes stored on a cell phone is a serious offence, nearly a quarter of those polled said that's not cheating at all, according to the poll commissioned by San Francisco non-profit Common Sense Media.

The poll, conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, included interviews with more than 1,000 children ages 13 to 18 and an equal number of parents with children in grades seven through 12.

Most of the parents said they were aware cheating is rampant, with 76 per cent saying it happens at their child's school, but they were in denial about their own children - just 3 per cent acknowledged that their child has cheated with a cell phone.

These results should be a wake-up call for parents and educators, said James Steyer, chief executive officer and founder of Common Sense Media. "This is where kids live today, and you have to educate teachers and parents about this because it's just real," he said.

More than a third of the students polled, for example, said they plagiarized information off the Internet and slapped their names on it - 20 per cent of all students surveyed said that isn't cheating.

Before such gadgets existed, cheating was simpler: Students passed notes or information in the halls between classes or wrote crib notes.

Now, given that most cell phones snap pictures, students can photograph test questions and silently forward the images to friends who are scheduled to take the test later in the day. Or they can text questions to friends who text the answers back.

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Steyer's organization is advocating a media literacy program that ensures students are aware that technology doesn't change the definition of what's right and wrong.





"There's no strategy for dealing with this," he said. "Kids don't even necessarily think this is cheating."

Many schools have banned phones and other electronic devices, but in some cases parents and students have lobbied to change those policies.

Mostly, students are simply texting friends for no other reason than to chat.

According to the survey, teens send an average 440 texts every week - 110 of them during class time.

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