Digitally Dodging Schoolwork

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We all know—and many parents know all too well—that school’s back in session. But this fall is unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetime, and parents, teachers and students alike are dealing with some all-new challenges. So-called Zoombombers (people who hijack Zoom meetings and sometimes flood it with unwanted images or dialogue) are still at work. And, of course, the technology itself can be an issue. Find yourself with a less-than-robust WiFi connection, and your classroom participation turns into a garbled bunch of mush.

But leave it to the kids to take technology and twist it for their own nefarious ends.

Some students—fearing their teachers might call on them when they don’t know the answer—have some garbled audio at the ready, mimicking the sound of a scrambled Zoom call.


I will be ready to utilize this 😂#zoom #fyp

♬ original sound – Alondra Michelle 🔫

According to an article on USA Today about the phenomenon, such videos are being shared on TikTok, with at least one garnering more than 7 million plays.

“It’s not surprising because kids do this in school, too,” Anna Ball, a professor at the University of Buffalo, told USA Today. “They find ways to stimulate themselves because they’re bored. It’s not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.”

It’s likely just the beginning. Thanks to a simple digital loop, people have the ability to duck out of Zoom meetings entirely while looking like they’re actually there. And if anyone’s unsure of how to do it, guess what? YouTube has you covered with all manner of tutorials.



Granted, it looks like most of this digital-imagery cheating is being done by meeting-weary adults, but let’s be honest: Children and teens (not your children and teens, of course; other people’s children and teens) have been prone to cut class ever since there were classes to cut. The fact that classes are online now just potentially makes the cutting really hard to spot.

All this can make parenting a school-age child through the pandemic just that much more challenging. If you homeschool, you’re set! If not, parents should have their antennae up just a wee bit higher. Keep an eye on your children when they’re in “class” as much as possible to make sure that they’re participating as they ought. Be aware of any mysterious software that might allow a user to clone herself (such as the ones illustrated in the YouTube clip above) that might be floating around on the computer.

And while we’re talking right now about keeping your kids focused on a screen, still be aware that too much out-of-school screen time can still be a problem. Check out Focus on the Family’s handy-dandy guide on how to manage that screen time right here.

Now, if you excuse me, I have (ahem) a virtual meeting to attend.

Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.