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Troop Smartphone Policy

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 I guess we're too busy doing more interesting things with our time?

 

Really? Can we refrain from this stuff?

 

My guys also voted to ban mobile phones. The reason was because a decent number of guys were addicted to them. After trying various ways to allow them to suffer consequences and allowing them to "mature" on their own, it became such a problem taking away from program that they took action. It wasn't like they spent days and months on the subject. It came up during a PLC, there was debate and they passed the rule. Done.

 

The result? We have folks actually engaged in the outdoor program instead of worrying about snapchatting their friends who stayed home to sit in front of the TV or computer. We have guys doing astronomy at night and not watching YouTube. We have guys that know how to use map and compass (and prefer it) to watching a screen to get their location. 

 

Banning them doesn't make us any more or less a troop than yours. I am proud the Scouts took this step. The results have paid off. Maybe another PLC will reinstate the use of phones outside of travel. It is their troop so it is up to them.

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Banning them doesn't make us any more or less a troop than yours. I am proud the Scouts took this step. The results have paid off. Maybe another PLC will reinstate the use of phones outside of travel. It is their troop so it is up to them.

 

That much I can agree with.  The distinction that gets lost too easily in these discussions is the ownership of the decision. The PLC is empowered to make these decisions.  While I personally remain skeptical that this is the sort of issue which a PLC should concern themselves with, I do need to acknowledge that its the things that are important to them that matter, and not the things which are important to me.

 

My perception may be unfairly clouded based on my experience, which has been that whenever we talk of "banning" anything, the ownership has 100% been with the adult advisers, and not with the youth leaders.   My preference has also been for the PLC to address behaviors, and not objects.  As well as to focus on planning of adventure, and not promulgation of policy.  Hence, the issue has not come up in my experience.  But I'll admit that others' have different experiences, and my approach is not the only correct approach.

 

Now, what's interesting to me... a few posts back, you mentioned: " I would say it depends on the book and what they are using the phone for. If they are reading a MB pamphlet or other Scouting book then I have no issue."  Which does get me to wondering, how much of this is your issue, versus your youth leaderships' issue? My approach: I'll support running a fantastic program.  My expectations of the youth are that they follow through with the commitments that they've made to execute that program.  As long as that is happening in a safe way... I'm kind of hands-off with what the youth do to spend their down time.

 

Sorry for offending you, it wasn't my intention.  

Edited by jwest09

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We have changed our policy from an outright ban to allowing our scouts to use their phones for "Scout-related" activities such as referencing requirements, looking up a tree or animal sighting, taking pictures,  looking at a star chart, etc.   If we find them texting, gaming, twittering, etc. we confiscate the phones till the end of the event, be it a campout or troop meeting.  Seems to be working fairly well.  We did have to request that the adults be a little discreet with their use.

 

Dale

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Now, what's interesting to me... a few posts back, you mentioned: " I would say it depends on the book and what they are using the phone for. If they are reading a MB pamphlet or other Scouting book then I have no issue."  Which does get me to wondering, how much of this is your issue, versus your youth leaderships' issue? 

 

I was addressing the questioned whether a Scout reading a book was not actively participating at summer camp. So, for me, it would depend on what the book was. Same would go for if we allowed cell phones. If the Scout was using a nature app or something, fine.

 

My feelings are immaterial to what our PLC does. They do plenty I would do differently or that I disagree with, but my role is to guide them. I happen to agree with them on this but I played Devil's advocate bringing up many of the points folks have used here. I can tell you they quite effectively shot them all down. They acknowledged that they might relax the rule in the future and they even put together conditions under which the rule could be lifted. I have to say, their handling of the situation and development of conditions to revisit the issue showed more maturity than I could ever have imagined, so I take offense at Barry's stance that banning anything some how makes the boys' decision less mature. 

 

I played my role as I was expected to. Trust me, they've done other things I've disagreed with, but I sat there drinking my coffee watching the resulting mayhem unfold.

Edited by Col. Flagg

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If one is in the habit of teaching boys to make good choices, banning anything is just an adult's way of making choices for them.  Instead of having possession of a cellphone or not might be one choice that is taken away, but hauling a library of books out into the woods for nature identification purposes verses a cellphone is quite cumbersome.  Learning to make choices with a certain resource tool is quite another.

 

I have found over the years that even if they use the phone improperly 95% of the time, the 5% is still a choice that can be made properly.  That percentage can change over time as the scout matures.  While I don't use my cellphone for entertainment, I do use it for a substitute for the Scout Handbook on a regular basis.  I look up advancement, plant identification, taking pictures of things I need to look up at a future time, etc. On occasion I give the Mrs. an evening call to tell her about my day with the boys.  The opportunity to learn proper choices, referencing items on the go, and maybe even a personal contact are all opportunities one would not have at their disposal with an outright ban on the electronic items.  Yes, a Gameboy item of only entertainment purposes has no place in the woods, but the choice to leave it behind at home is a lesson one would want the boys to eventually pick up on.

 

A ban would also remove the possibility of losing it, having it stolen, broken, or useless due to battery discharge, but where are all those lessons going to be taught if not in the maturation program of Scouting?

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A ban would also remove the possibility of losing it, having it stolen, broken, or useless due to battery discharge, but where are all those lessons going to be taught if not in the maturation program of Scouting?

 

Let's not be fooled, the consequences and maturation process will not go away just because Johnny doesn't have his iPhone 7 to play with. There's plenty of other stuff for him to lose and learn from, as evidenced by the quite large Lost and Found at my local council camp.

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All those Scouts reading on campouts are working on their Reading Merit Badge. You know that, right? ;)

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For those troops that still ban cell phones for the Scouts, I think it is probably fairly common NOT to apply that rule to adults.  As someone else pointed out, adults have different responsibilities outside of Scouting, whether it is work, home, etc.  

I would love to leave my cell phone home for a weekend!

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All those Scouts reading on campouts are working on their Reading Merit Badge. You know that, right? ;)

 

I'll play Devil's advocate against phones a bit further.

 

There are health, growth and maturation arguments for limiting screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with some guidelines on screen usage which CNN picked up last fall. Many kids have too much screen time already. So much so that sleep patterns are interrupted, social skills are dulled or underdeveloped, the ability to communicate with others is affected and a host of other issues. 

 

When you couple that research with the research on the impact of "unplugging" and being outdoors and the impact on your mental and physical health in very positive way, the PLC's decision to leave phones in the car is a good one.

 

When you weigh all these factors, for me, they outweigh any positive factors of allowing phones in camp. And yes, even reading books too much at camp (whether MB books or Harry Potter) is not good either. Go catch a fish instead. 

Edited by Col. Flagg

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All those Scouts reading on campouts are working on their Reading Merit Badge. You know that, right? ;)

 

I don't want to send this off on a tangent, but that's something that drove me crazy when my son was in the troop.  He and a few of his friends in the troop were really big readers.  I told all of them that they were so close to fulfilling the requirements for Reading MB with what they were already doing that it would be ridiculous if they didn't get it.  Then my son actually completed the last requirement for the badge, which is to do some volunteer work in a library for X number of hours (I forget how many, it wasn't very many.)  He still didn't get the badge.  None of them got it.  Now, my son and the other kids I am thinking about all made Eagle anyway, but even so... Reading is the easiest merit badge in the world if you like to read, and I think even most of the kids who didn't really like to read would still be able to get it from the stuff they HAVE to read in high school English classes, plus a few hours shelving books in a library.

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Let's not be fooled, the consequences and maturation process will not go away just because Johnny doesn't have his iPhone 7 to play with. There's plenty of other stuff for him to lose and learn from, as evidenced by the quite large Lost and Found at my local council camp.

 

Losing a neckerchief slide, a fork, a messkit, even the handbook has it's consequences, but a $100+ cellphone?  That's CONSEQUENCES in spades.

 

I'll play Devil's advocate against phones a bit further.

 

There are health, growth and maturation arguments for limiting screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with some guidelines on screen usage which CNN picked up last fall. Many kids have too much screen time already. So much so that sleep patterns are interrupted, social skills are dulled or underdeveloped, the ability to communicate with others is affected and a host of other issues. 

 

When you couple that research with the research on the impact of "unplugging" and being outdoors and the impact on your mental and physical health in very positive way, the PLC's decision to leave phones in the car is a good one.

 

When you weigh all these factors, for me, they outweigh any positive factors of allowing phones in camp. And yes, even reading books too much at camp (whether MB books or Harry Potter) is not good either. Go catch a fish instead. 

 

I have always been a fan of the notion that a lot of the ADD/ADHD is a direct result of Sesame Street.  Short, flash, high impact visual stimulus for hours on end and it conditions the brain to shorter and shorter attention spans.  If flashing lights can trigger epileptic seizures, what else is happening to the focused, intense world of video gaming and cellphone screen time.  It's addictive to the developing mind and runs contrary to the whole notion of community.  

 

Johnny: I talk to my friends every day.

 

Dad: Really?  Did you talk with your mouth, or "talk" with your thumbs? 

 

We are a society of electronic hermits.

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Losing a neckerchief slide, a fork, a messkit, even the handbook has it's consequences, but a $100+ cellphone?  That's CONSEQUENCES in spades.

 

@@Stosh, it's been a while since you've bought a cell phone, hasn't it? ;) Not sure about your area, but where I live most kids have the latest tech. One kid in our unit broke the PLC policy about no phones at camp last summer. Kid took his new iPhone sailing with him...guess where it ended up? What did mom and dad do? Bought him a brand new one before the very next meeting (we arrived home on Sat, he had a new phone Monday). No amount of parenting on my part, or consequence dishing out by the SPL is going to change this kid's approach to rule-breaking. The problem is mom and dad. 

 

I have always been a fan of the notion that a lot of the ADD/ADHD is a direct result of Sesame Street.  Short, flash, high impact visual stimulus for hours on end and it conditions the brain to shorter and shorter attention spans.  If flashing lights can trigger epileptic seizures, what else is happening to the focused, intense world of video gaming and cellphone screen time.  It's addictive to the developing mind and runs contrary to the whole notion of community.

I have a kid with ADHD. I fought it tooth and nail. I was a firm believer that it was just an over-diagnosed fad. After years of research and struggle, going to an endless list of experts, I found some real substantive research around it. In our case we don't know the cause (the kid did not get screen time nor was he exposed to video games, long periods of TV), but we saw the effect. This helped us find a way to manage it.

 

We are a society of electronic hermits.

This was my point above. Generally, kids seem to lack the interpersonal skills they did 20 years ago. They seem to rely on google to give them the answer rather than studying. Don't get me wrong, I love tech. I have every gadget known to mankind. And yes, when I am in the back country I *do* have tech...BUT it is to record the adventure. I bring my GoPro, SLR, tripods, iPhone and other stuff, HOWEVER, I use it to take pics and video which we compile later in to some really great memories. I *don't* use it watch Bond movies by the campfire or to play Minecraft on Baldy.

Edited by Col. Flagg
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My feelings are immaterial to what our PLC does. They do plenty I would do differently or that I disagree with, but my role is to guide them. I happen to agree with them on this but I played Devil's advocate bringing up many of the points folks have used here. I can tell you they quite effectively shot them all down. They acknowledged that they might relax the rule in the future and they even put together conditions under which the rule could be lifted. I have to say, their handling of the situation and development of conditions to revisit the issue showed more maturity than I could ever have imagined, so I take offense at Barry's stance that banning anything some how makes the boys' decision less mature. 

Read my posts, I said several times "adult" bans and rules can limit Scout growth and maturity. You didn't mention the PLC until after my post. I wasn't the only scouter here suggesting that your adults consider their part on the subject. I guess I was just the one that struck a cord.

 

Barry

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While hiking have you or your scouts been asked by other, non-scout hikers  on the trail if you have a cellphone they could use?

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