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Tech Trends: AI Cheating, ‘Dumb Phones’ and Teen Slang

This month: how to stop your child from using AI to cheat, why dumb phones might be a smart screen-time solution, and a list of tween and teen slang

Summer is nearly upon us, which means for most families, school is nearly out.

But even though we’re entering the days of sunshine and warmth, parents and teachers alike still have some battles to face before sending students home.

How to Prevent AI Cheating as the School Year Closes

Generative AI has been quite the subject this past year, and many have been particularly worried about how it can be used to cheat in school. Turnitin, a plagiarism detection company used by many universities and high schools, reported that more than 22 million papers submitted this past year may have used generative AI, says Wired.

Unfortunately, AI detection software is still faulty. Turnitin says it has a 98% accuracy in spotting AI-written work. But others, such as OpenAI’s Classifier (the same creators of ChatGPT), are only successful 26% of the time, reports Forbes.

This problem likely won’t disappear over the summer. But schools and families might be able to reduce the number of incidents that occur before this term ends.

  • Encourage teachers and school administrators to return to old forms of completing exams and writing papers. Business Insider reports that some college professors are already considering oral exams as opposed to written ones. And others are opting for handwritten essays that must be completed during class time. But parents worried that their child will be accused of cheating might also be able to waylay those fears by having assignments completed by hand and then converted to typed text later on.
  • Utilize the tools available. Although AI-detection isn’t foolproof just yet, there are still some pretty good programs already out there. Encourage your child’s school to access these tools to aid teachers. And, when possible, read over your teenager’s essays yourself to see if the work carries their voice or sounds like it was written by a machine.
  • Educate students on the proper use of AI. Many recognize that AI can be helpful tool in research and brainstorming. But remind your teenager that while many AI-detection tools are still faulty, they’re quickly becoming more accurate. And it would behoove them to use AI in accordance with their school policies so they don’t get flagged for cheating, which could result in failing a class entirely or even expulsion.

Why We’re Looking at ‘Dumber’ Technology

Technology keeps getting smarter. It can predict what we’re going to type next. It can suggest what sort of content we might enjoy watching. And, thanks to AI, it can even hold conversations with us.

But for some reason, it’s still letting us down.

Personally, I don’t need my phone to autocorrect me. (Trust me, I know how to correctly spell my own last name.) I deleted all my social media accounts to protect my mental health from the addictive algorithms. And don’t even get me started on AI’s “hallucinations.”

I’m not the only one voicing complaints though. A writer for The Atlantic noted last year that after the credit card he used to purchase an HP ink cartridge subscription expired (a smart feature designed to prevent users from ever running out of ink), the company remotely disabled his printer even though it still had working cartridges. Tesla drivers in Florida were delighted when the company pushed a remote upgrade that extended their cars’ battery lives as they evacuated Hurricane Irma. But TechCrunch also reported a chain of vulnerabilities that would allow hackers to access some of the cars’ functions, such as opening the trunk and honking the horn.

Yes, we love our smart tech, but sometimes we hate it too. Which is perhaps why there’s been a surge in demand for “dumb” phones.

According to The New Yorker, the Light Phone (an e-ink device similar to a Kindle with limited apps) drastically reduces distraction and content scrolling. It doubled its revenue in 2023 and is on track to double again in 2024. Members of Gen Z are busy developing phone accessories and apps to help combat their own excessive phone usage. Phone designer Nokia is reviving a few of its own old designs to make way for the new dumb phone era. And Dumbwireless, a phone plan that works exclusively with distraction-free phones, is also growing in popularity.

Some folks will never give up their smart tech. Personally, as much as I love the idea of a simpler phone, I’m not concerned enough about my smartphone usage to drop it entirely. But parents are constantly asking what age they should give their child a phone. And while this will differ from family to family—even child to child—the dumb phone (and other forms of dumb technology) could help ease children into having a phone without throwing open the doors to all that comes with a full-fledged smartphone.

A Parent’s Guide to Tween and Teen Slang

Look, it can be embarrassing to admit you’re not up on your slang. It can be even worse to ask your teenager what they mean when they give you the one-word reply, “bet.” And don’t even get me started on the teenagers who laugh at and mock adults who don’t know what the latest “tea” is.

Sure, we can Google most terms (I certainly do), but even that could earn us a scoff since many teenagers are turning to TikTok for basic searches instead of search engines.

Loathe as we are to admit it, we aren’t kids anymore. We don’t listen to the same music or watch the same shows as our teenage children. But by golly, we should at least know what they’re saying. So without further ado, here are the top 10 slang terms (via USA Today) most used by those who should learn to respect their elders.

  • “Sus” – Short for “suspicious.” Used to describe a person or situation that seems questionable or dishonest.
  • “Bet” – An expression that simply means “I agree” or “good news.”
  • “Yeet” – Often exclaimed when excited and/or angry, and often paired with throwing something. But it can also be used in place of “throw.”
  • “Salty” – This one isn’t quite as new as some of the others on this list, but it describes when someone gets irritated over something petty.
  • “Cap” – Another word for “lie.” So “no cap” can mean “I’m not lying,” and “stop capping” can mean “stop lying.”
  • “Extra” – Used to describe someone who’s being super dramatic or over-the-top. Again, not the newest of terms on this list.
  • “Bussin” – The most hated slang by parents (21% according to USA Today), this is something teens say if something is really good, usually food.
  • “Bougie” – Short for “bourgeois,” although most teens don’t know that. But typically used to describe someone or something super fancy/rich/upper class.
  • “Drip” – And here I thought this was a reference to Mrs. Hannigan’s “dripping with diamonds” lyric in Annie. Nope. It’s a term used to describe something “very cool,” usually an outfit, accessory, person or song.

BONUS WORD: “Tea” – Gossip. Commonly phrased as “What’s the tea?” or “Spill the tea.”

Each month, Plugged In publishes a blog with the latest technology and social media trends. We’ll let you know what changes to keep an eye out for. We’ll offer some tips about how to handle technology in your family. And of course, we’ll give you the scoop on those things called “hashtags” so you can stay up to date on all the things your kids might be obsessed with.

ICYMI (“in case you missed it,” for those up on their social acronyms), you can check out March’s Tech Trends, too.

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