EducationKids Stuff

First Grade Hacker

1st Grade Hacker
1st Grade Hacker

This morning, I was called to meet with my son’s first grade teacher. And much like the days back when I was the one in trouble, my palms grew sweaty and I wondered what he’d done.  Was it attention issues? Was he bullying? Forgetting to flush? Vast images of first grade naughtiness raced through my head.

But I was nowhere near close. Apparently, my sweet little just-turned-seven year old was hacking into other students accounts during computer lab, reading their virtual books and spending the points on redecorating their cyber homes, feeding their pets and randomly trading them in for robots and aliens.

To say the least, my reaction was mixed. I tried not to laugh, then got serious. Miss T, who is young enough to be tech savvy, admitted this was a first for her too. “I just set it up. I didn’t think I’d need to password protect everyone’s files. But thanks to Lucas, now everyone has their own password.”
This is the program our kids use for online reading.

When I got home, I did give my little guy a good talking to, and thankfully did not crack a smile. But I couldn’t help but wonder what this new generation of tech babes has in store for them in their future. Here’s a classroom of kids, who during computer lab sit quietly “reading” their online books for the occasional rewards in the form of a virtual game. However, my son has already cracked the code figuring out that you don’t have to actually “read” the books, you can just click through them, get the points and go straight to the game. And when you finish with your own levels, heck, go play someone else’s .

I suppose this is the new form of cheating. What does this mean as these kids get older? I’m thinking that probably for the rest of my son’s educational life, he and his classmates will be savvier at using technology in the classroom than the teachers who are setting it up and this frightens me. What does this say about the shift toward online education with universities like Harvard giving out accredited degrees through the internet?  You can probably swing by the virtual store and get your college sweatshirt on the way out.  And if you’re my son, you could probably find a way to graduate in less than a week.

What do you think about technology in the classroom?  Are you instilling values in your child that carry over into the virtual world?  Have you put limits on screen time and do you have restrictions on your browser?  We’d love to hear from you.

*This post is dedicated to Brenda Bolt, my elementary school principal whose job I unfortunately made very difficult. Pay back, Brenda. Rest assured.


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  • I cyber school both of my kids and my 5-year-old daughter has found ways around doing the work on her reading program to get to the fun parts, too…although she has resorted to clicking all over the screen until she finally hits the correct answer. I had to have a talk with her this week about it. I know if she takes a moment, thinks about it, and gives a little effort, she can easily read the questions and come up with an answer. But she doesn’t want to put in the effort. I explained to her that in a way that was cheating and it wasn’t right. I also pointed out to her that it takes a lot less time and effort for her to read it and figure it out than it does to keep clicking until she accidentally hits the right answer. I’m doubtful I got through to her about the cheating part, but the second point hit home. So far she has avoided her clicking frenzies.

    • I know what you mean. We have the same situation here. I suppose we always have to sit down with them to ensure they are taking the time to think through everything online. And also teach them the old fashioned way with books, pen and paper. It’s good for them to become computer literate as these things aren’t going away. (Getting smaller and more mobile, perhaps) I’m just hoping my little guy learns more than just how to copy and paste. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Congratulations – your son is a genius and his brain hasn’t closed down from formal education yet. Get him out of basic public schools and get him into a school that will appreciate his out of the box, creative problem solving abilities. His genius will all go to waste and disappear with the lack of stimulation he’ll get in your average public school. He’ll get scholarships to a private school that understands what they’re dealing with. Don’t let his brain go to mush.

    • Thanks! we think he’s pretty smart too. Thankfully his public school is tops in the country and lord knows, our taxes pay for it. Will keep you posted!! Keep reading! xo

  • Oh that Lucas is a smart one! And this story is funny and well-told. Thanks for sharing your journey into the new frontier of tech babe parenting. It’s got me smiling!

  • I know you shouldn’t condone this type of behavior, but hey he’s gotta be one smart little man to have figured it out!

  • I’m sorry, I can’t help but giggle at this.

  • Brenda Artemes aka Brenda Bolt
    February 7, 2013 4:39 pm

    Thank you, Maureen! Lucas is a mighty lucky boy to have you for a Mom! I can’t help but smile remembering the time that I was reprimanded for requesting one computer per classroom in my yearly budget request!
    Your elementary school principal, Brenda

  • Oh, Girl. You have one precious little boy there. Reading your stories make me laugh. Lucas is going to do great things and keep you highly entertained along the way. About the possible pitfalls in this techy generation, I wonder what would become of those little ones if we as parents spent as much time developing integrity, honesty and values as we do learning a musical instruments or perfecting jumpshots and curveballs? Yes, we had limits on screen time and browser restrictions as the boys were growing up. Our only computer was a desktop in the den until they went to college. Personally, I think all the limits and restrictions in the world will accomplish nothing without a LOT of conversation. Hey, if they aren’t rolling their eyes at us then we are not doing this parenting thing correctly, right?

    • Thanks Kim – I’m sure he will keep me on my toes lol. Great job on keeping family values and good conversation front and center. It’s just sooo important. I love technology more than words can say and it will be interesting to see what kind of gadgets and gizmos our kids use twenty years from now. In the meantime, we’ve just got to keep a foot on their backs to make sure they get outside and in touch with nature.

  • Would you like to play a game?

  • I have to say that I love this! I’m not surprised that Lucas figured out a way around the system. My bet is that he’s going to go on to do amazing things. He doesn’t see any reason not to.

    I wish I could give him a high five for his genius! 🙂