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Teens are harnessing the power of modern technology in order to secretly communicate when in school. And while previous generations may have had to rely on passing paper notes, Generation Z is utilizing cellphones and wireless earbuds to chat undetected.
One such teen on TikTok showcased this new method in a video that has since gone viral. A copy of the clip shared to Twitter that breaks down the process has already been viewed more than 2.7 million times.
Kids are swapping AirPods in class then using text to speech to ‘talk’ without talking 🤩🤩🤩 pic.twitter.com/moLxK1rzbv— Louis Anslow ★ 🦨 (@LouisAnslow) January 21, 2020
The trick is relatively simple. First, teens exchange one of their Apple AirPod earbuds with another student. Then, using Google Translate, a message can be typed and transmitted verbally into the ear of the other user.
Reactions to the video included everything you’d expect. Millennials are praising the new generation’s ingenuity, while Baby Boomers and others harkened back to a simpler time of paper airplanes.
“Too bad they will never know the joys of passing paper airplane notes behind a teachers back… but then again, I doubt any kid these days knows how to make a paper airplane,” Twitter user @MetalGearSamMcC said.
Too bad they will never know the joys of passing paper airplane notes behind a teachers back... but then again, I doubt any kid these days knows how to make a paper airplane— sam (@MetalGearSamMcC) January 22, 2020
jesus christ, they'll never know the terror of writing a crude note to your friend and throwing it across class, and it stopping short and landing near the teacher's feet— Ace of Swords (@AnAceofSwords) January 22, 2020
Some even went off on a tangent about the failure of the teens to use proper grammar.
“But they still don’t know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re,'” Twitter user @CrazyJimP said.
But they still don't know the difference between "your" and "you're". pic.twitter.com/PIcVlXNMF4— Batchelor Dandy, Drinker of Brandy 🏳️🌈 (@CrazyJimP) January 21, 2020
The secret chat trick does appear to be spreading though. One user stated that he had seen the method used by students in his Sunday School class.
They do this in my Sunday School class 😂 https://t.co/HxDNbrlCt7— Cory Huff (@AGoodHusband) January 22, 2020
Several other users applauded the problem-solving skills displayed by today’s teenage girls.
We dramatically under-estimate the problem solving abilities of a group of teenage girls by a lot. https://t.co/loqx6kt0EB— Jess Zimbabwe (@jzimbabwe) January 22, 2020
Brilliant! This is the type of problem solving we need in the world!— Kim Rees (they/she) (@krees) January 21, 2020
Multiple people went on to share the methods they used when in school in order to communicate under-the-radar. TI-83 calculators anyone?
The reminds me of back when I was in high school I made a really long link cable for the TI-83 Plus and wrote a simple instant messenger app. We ran the cord through our clothes so the teacher couldn’t see it and had conversations during class.— Sean Duran (@esotericsean) January 21, 2020
Back in my day we just passed around our TI-84s, but sure 🤯— Meredith Rowe (@mererow) January 21, 2020
That’s goddamn genius. When I was in high school the smartest kid printed up a fake Coca-Cola label with the answers in tiny white text and wrapped it around the bottle. Stone Age.— Greg (เกร็ก) (@BkkGreg) January 22, 2020
It appears some schools have even gone as far to essentially ban both phones and wireless earbuds in order to crack down on student’s communication covertly.
“At my school, phones go in the locker in the morning, and you don’t get them out till time to go home,” Twitter user @HesstThe said. “We have also banned air pods in the hall and classroom unless teacher directed to use them.”
At my school, phones go in the locker in the morning, and you don't get them out till time to go home. We have also banned air pods in the hall and classroom unless teacher directed to use them— The Diva (@HessThe) January 22, 2020
Of course, many asked why the method was even necessary at all when students could just text instead. Many of the criticisms were met with an “OK Boomer.”
Isn’t it easier to just text...?— Armand Domalewski (@ArmandDoma) January 21, 2020
Just text since you’re already typing it in— K҉y҉r҉e҉e҉ (@kyreekj1213) January 23, 2020
The video highlights just one of the many methods students use in order to beat the boredom of the classroom. Even Google Docs has become a tool in the arsenal of young kids looking to talk in school.
Given the rapid development of technology, we can only expect digital note-passing to become even more impressive in the coming years.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.