To make this happen, some troops forbid smart devices and even go so far as to confiscate them or lock them up. That may solve the “distraction” issue during troop meeting, but does it really solve the bigger concerns we have about our youth using technology?
If you understand how immunizations work, you know that they take a dormant form of the virus and introduce it to the body’s system. Then, when your body encounters a live form of the virus, it has already created protections against it and you don’t get sick. It’s the same with technology. If we teach our youth now how to behave and react to unworthy things on the internet, WHEN (not if) they run into a situation, they will know how to handle it.
Troop 96’s Tech Policy
That’s why units like Troop 96 of Grayslake, Ill., have developed a technology policy that’s realistic and effective.
“In my mind, it’s no use to debate it any longer,” Scoutmaster Pat Klemens writes. “The devices are here to stay. I’ve had more than one Scout say that he wouldn’t go to camp without his phone. I know a lot of adults who may not say it, but certainly respond the same way.”
Klemens and his troop had an internal discussion about technology in Scouting about four years ago. They realized “there are an incredible number of logical comparisons between a pocketknife and a cellphone.” Such as:
- Both are tools.
- Both could be toys.
- Both can be used recklessly.
- Both can hurt people.
- Both can be highly useful.
- Both require training for proper use.
- Both can, at times, scare people.
- Neither is going away.
“We don’t ban knives, hand axes or gas lanterns,” Klemens writes. “We teach their use. Similarly, we don’t ban technology. We teach its use.”
So Troop 96 came up with a technology policy that uses the familiar 12 points of the Scout Law. It’s working. Since its implementation more than two years ago, the troop says “the problem simply doesn’t exist anymore.”
See Troop 96’s full policy on Bryan On Scouting.
Become Social Media Certified
To give our Scouts the tools to live the Scout Oath and Law on and off the web, the Utah National Parks Council has created a Social Media Certification for youth and adults. This program will teach Scouts:
- To be safer while using social media
- To bring purpose in their usage of social media
- To help them better understand how to get involved in the discussions happening in social media
- To encourage everyone to share their personal stories and thoughts on what is important to them
- To flood the earth with good messages
There are six levels of the social media certification. At each level, an individual must complete a set of requirements and pass off the requirements with a coach or mentor who has attained a higher certification in the program. These levels are:
- CORE certification
The CORE certification starts out with requirements such as earning the BSA Cyber Chip and prayerfully considering your purpose, and making a set plan for social media.
Sign up for Social Media Certification HERE.
Then, once you earn the CORE certification, become a Coach to teach others how to find purpose in their social media use.
Instead of fighting a losing battle, we can adopt and adapt to the world in which our youth are living.
What are your thoughts on Scouting and technology? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Melany Gardner | Editor, The Boy Scout, Utah National Parks Council, BSA