By Annaleis Smith
Oct 24, 2017

Cyber Chip – Why, Who and How

The Whitlin’ chip can be earned by Cub Scouts (Bears and Webelos only) to show that a boy knows all about pocket knife safety.  The Totin’ Chip is the same for Boy Scouts and adds other tools like axes and saws.

The Cyber Chip shows that a boy knows about Internet Safety.  Let’s take a quick look at WHY it is important, WHO needs to earn it, and HOW it can be earned?

WHY earn Cyber Chip?

Everywhere you go, look around.  How many people are on a device (smart phone, tablet, etc.)  How many of those you see are under age 18?  It’s pretty obvious that technology and it’s uses has changed dramatically from when most of today’s older adults (over 30) were growing up.  It’s even changed quite a bit from just 5 years ago.

We all know that today’s youth are spending more time than ever using digital media for education, research, socializing, and of course for fun. To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, the Boy Scouts of America introduced the Cyber Chip. The BSA teamed up with NetSmartz®, part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® and training expert for many law enforcement agencies.

Netsmartz® created a Scouting portal showcasing Cyber Chip resources, including grade-specific videos, for each level. Topics include cyberbullying, cell phone use, texting, blogging, gaming, and identity theft.

Take a look at the pledges they must agree too – pretty good ideas!

Level 1 Internet Safety Pledge – Cub Scouts

  1. I will tell my trusted adult if anything makes me feel sad, scared, confused or uncomfortable.
  2. I will ask my trusted adult before posting photos or sharing information like my name, address, current location or phone number.
  3. I won’t meet face-to-face with anyone I meet in the digital world.
  4. I will respect the online property of others.
  5. I will always use good “netiquette” and not be rude or mean online.

Level 2 Internet Safety Pledge – Boy Scouts

  1. I will think before I post.
  2. I will respect other people online.
  3. I will respect digital media ownership.
  4. I won’t meet face-to-face with anyone I meet in the digital world unless I have my parents permission.
  5. I will protect myself online.

WHO should earn Cyber Chip?

After reading the why above, the answer to the question of who should easily be everyone.  It’s a good idea not only for youth but for adults as well. Adults should know what it is the youth are being taught.  One of the goals of the Cyber Chip and in fact part of the requirements are for the youth to have conversations with parents and Scouting leaders about rules, policies and acceptable use of devices at home and at Scouting events.

When the Cyber chip was first developed it was just an extra patch that could be earned if they/you wanted to.  However it is now required for the following ranks and merit badges.

Cyber Chip is required for:

  • Tiger Rank
  • Wolf Rank
  • Bear Rank
  • Webelos Rank
  • Arrow of Light Rank
  • Scout Rank
  • Star Rank
  • Digital Technology Merit Badge
  • Programming Merit Badge

Unfortunately the fact that it is required does not stand out much when reading through the rank requirements.  The way it is written it almost seems like an afterthought and some readers miss it entirely.  When included in rank requirements it is often listed like this.

Image from Boy Scout Handbook, Scout Rank Requirements pg439

In the new Cub Scout Requirement Modifications it is at least now listed as it’s own requirement, separate from the parent’s guide.  But, there still is no indication in the handbooks themselves as to what the requirements are or how a boy can earn it.

HOW to earn Cyber Chip

Because earning the Cyber Chip is about online safety the requirements are… you guessed it – Online!  In fact all the games, videos, activities etc that they need at each step are all found online.  You can get there by going to scouting.org/cyberchip. This page includes a short intro video about Cyber Chip and then provides links to the Netsmartz web page with the actual requirements and links.

Which requirements a boy must complete is determined by which grade he is in at school. Generally the requirements for grades 1-3 and 4-5 will be for Cub Scouts and the 6-8 and 9-12 will be for Boy Scouts.

The best way to learn about Cyber Chip would be to click on the above link and just check it out.  Watch the videos, play the games, take a look at the activities. However to give you an overview I’ll also include the requirements below and here is a link to a Cyber Chip handout I created with the requirements listed.  (This may be helpful to give parents so they better understand the importance of and requirements for earning.)

Cyber Chip Requirements for Grades 1-3 

  1. Read, commit to, and sign the Level 1 Internet Safety Pledge. (Cards available at Scout Shop)
  2. Watch the video “Bad Netiquette Stinks.”
  3. Play the Router’s Birthday Surprise Interactive Adventure.
  4. Show & tell your family, den leader, den, or pack what you learned.

Cyber Chip Requirements for Grades 4-5 

Level 1 Pledge

  1.  Read, commit to, and sign the Level 1 Internet Safety Pledge. (Cards available at Scout Shop)
  2.  Watch the video “The Password Rap” and another video.
  3.  Use the Teachable Recipes to demonstrate Internet safety rules to your den leader, den, or pack.
  4. Discuss with your leader the acceptable standards and practices for using allowed electronic devices at your meetings and Scouting events.

Cyber Chip Requirements for Grades 6-8 

  1. Read, commit to, and sign the Level II Cyber Chip Internet Safety Pledge. (Cards available at Scout Shop)
  2. Write and sign a personalized contract with your parent or guardian that outlines rules for using the computer and mobile devices, including what you can download, what you can post, and consequences for inappropriate use.
  3. Watch the video “Friend or Fake?” and 2 more videos
  4. Teach your Troop or another Patrol about Internet safety rules and appropriate online behavior using Mini Activities
  5. Talk to your unit leader about the acceptable standards and practices for electronic devices at your meetings and other Scouting events.

Cyber Chip Requirements for Grades 9-12

Level 2 Pledge

  1. Read, commit to, and sign the Level II Cyber Chip Internet Safety Pledge (Cards available at Scout Shop)
  2. Write and sign a personalized contract with your parent or guardian that outlines rules for using the computer and mobile devices, including what you can download, what you can post, and consequences for inappropriate use.
  3. Discuss with your parents the benefits and potential dangers teenagers might experience when using social media.
  4. Watch 3 Real-Life Stories videos to see how real teens have handled online issues.
  5. Teach Internet safety rules and appropriate online behavior to younger Scouts using the NetSmartz Student Project Kit.
  6. Talk to your unit leader about the acceptable standards and practices for electronic devices at your meetings and Scouting events.

All Cyber Chips expire annually. Each Scout will need to “recharge” the chip by going back to the Netsmartz Recharge area. This space will hold new information, news, and a place for the Scout to recommit to net safety and netiquette. Then, with the unit leader, the Scout can add the new date to the Cyber Chip card or certificate.

WHAT does a boy earn?

He should be awarded with the patch (shown above) the first time requirement are completed.  There is the blue patch for Cub Scouts and the green patch for Boy Scouts.  They are have the loop above and can be hung on the right uniform pocket.  He is then awarded a silver “recharge” pin (shown above) to be pin on the patch each additional time he earns it for another either for another rank or whenever he recharges it.

There is one extra note I need to include… the requirement for a boy to earn the Cyber Chip can be waved by a parent or guardian if the boy does not have access to the internet.  I think that very few boys will fall into that category.  With computer use in schools and at public libraries almost everyone should be able to complete these requirements.  In fact when I first went online to look at the requirements my daughter (then in 3rd grade) immediately recognized the site and characters from having seen them already at school.

 

Author: Annaleis Smith is a Stay at home mom of 5 (3 boys 2 girls).  She has been a Cub Scout leader since 2003.  She has been a cubmaster, den leader, pack trainer, Boy Scout Committee Chair and is now the cubmaster for the 2nd time.  She has been involved with roundtable at the district level since 2008 and involved in various council committees since 2010. She loves Cub Scouting and her favorite thing to do is to train other Cub Scout leaders.

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