I know that as parents of first through fifth graders, we may think that topics such as cyber bullying, online privacy and social networks are a long way off for us.
But you may be surprised to learn that over 5 million Facebook users are kids under the age of 10 even though the age limit for an account is 13.
What about YouTube videos? There are lots of great videos that the kids love—especially the Minecraft ones, but without supervision, it’s easy for the boys to be exposed to content that we don’t want them to watch.
And it’s estimated that 25% of kids have their own mobile phones in third grade with all of the issues that go along with a child and his mobile phone.
So how do we teach our kids internet safety principles? In partnership with NetSmartz®, the Boy Scouts of America developed the Cyber Chip program. Just like the Whittling Chip is designed to teach the boys pocketknife safety, the Cyber Chip is designed to teach them internet safety. There are BSA Cyber Chip requirements for boys in grades 1-3, grades 4-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. Even if your children aren’t in Cub Scouts, you can still take advantage of NetSmartz’s awesome programming.
Each Cyber Chip level covers topics such as cyber bullying, cell phone use, texting, blogging, gaming and identity theft. To earn the Cyber Chip, Cub Scouts sign an Internet Safety Pledge, watch an age-appropriate online video and share what they’ve learned with their den or den leader. Older boys complete additional activities.
The Cyber Chip expires annually. Our boys can “recharge” the chip by returning to the NetSmartz® website to learn more information.
On Scouting’s Cyber Chip home page, you’ll find some great ideas on ways to implement the program in your pack. A Jeopardy game with information the boys have learned sounds like so much fun! If you play it in your den, you could have teams—the boys versus the parents is always a good pairing.
As parents, we have a responsibility to keep our kids safe. We can encourage our kids to participate in programs like the Cyber Chip, but we also need to educate ourselves. A local blogger whom I know introduced me to a program developed by the Boys & Girls Club of America. Their CyberSafe program will give you tips, discussion cards and resources for cyberbullying, mobile technology, social networks and online privacy.
It’s never too early to begin talking about cyber safety with your boys. Have you had conversations with them about this important topic?
Yours in Scouting,
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