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fred johnson

BSA published policy / guidance on phones and electronics

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The BSA Cyber Chip requirements for grades 6-12 have this requirement

  • Talk to your unit leader about the acceptable standards and practices for using allowed electronic devices, such as phones and games, at your meetings and other Scouting events.

Where should a unit leader go for BSA guidance on this?  Is it just common sense adjusted for individual preferences and unit policies?  Or did BSA also publish guidance on this?  

I'm not looking for a debate.  I'm looking to be pointed to where BSA published their policies or guidance.

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I've always read this requirement as being about the troop's internal rules.  Some troops have a strict no electronics on campouts or no electronics at meetings rule, some have different variations including little to no formal rules.  I think this is an opportunity to discuss troop specific electronics usage.

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I've continued reading as I find it hard to give up a search.  I did just find this, but it's still vague.

https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/youthprotection/pdf/100-055_WB.pdf ... The Scout Law and Cybersafety/Cyberbullying

Quote

Remember that life is a balance. In Scouting, we focus on a balanced life through our aims: character, physical fitness, and citizenship. Technology is a tool to help us. It is not there to take the place of family, friends, the Scout Law, and staying physically fit. 

So essentially, BSA is says technology is a tool.  No definition or guidance.  As T2Eagle says, it's left to the troop.

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Like T2Eagle, I've looked at this as being open to interpretation, or at lease open to unit culture and individual preferences. Locally here, I know of one troop that has a strict policy limited electronics use on campouts, for example, and another local troop that has almost no rule about it and you'll often see the boys sitting around, noses in their screens. During downtime, mostly, thankfully. But there is stark contrast to how both troops operate in this regard. 

Officially, I don't think there is an official policy for the whole organization. 

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Our troop went through several iterations of views on electronics, from absolutely none, to OK to use them in a car on the ride there, to our current policy that phones are a tool, and like all tools need to be used correctly.

As with most things, it was the adults who had the hardest time adjusting to the evolution of this practice.

One example I use to illustrate for other scouters why our troop has the practice that we do comes from a Philmont trip a couple years ago.

A handful of scouts and two adults from our troop were set to go to Philmont as part of our council contingent.  The trek leader was going to be a scouter from another troop who pretty much makes the trip every year.  During the shakeout phase he told the scouts that they absolutely would not be allowed to have phones with them on the trek.  They would need to get cameras for pictures, wouldn't be allowed to contact anyone outside the trek, etc.  Why?  Because that's just the way you should do Philmont.  I know this scouter, and for all his virtues, he does often espouse the view that there is only one right way to do things.

By the time the actual trip came my troop's scouts were part of a different crew led by one of our adults and fleshed out by a couple of scouts and an adult from a third troop.

During the trek, soon after summitting Baldy, my scouts managed to find just enough of a signal to text me a photo of them from the top and a long heartfelt thanks for having been instrumental in preparing them for the great adventure they were on.  It brought tears to my eyes when I received it, and I since have printed and framed both the note and the picture. 

Any argument that their doing that was somehow wrong, given the pleasure it brought both me and them, seems totally absurd to me.

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The electronics and phones are a challenge.  You certainly want for the Scouts to engage with the unit and not be on their phone during meetings, outings, and summer camp.  They can be a useful tool and are great for reviewing requirements, getting food costs, etc.

For our troop the go to policy (actually more of a guideline) is we do not encourage or support phones and electronics on outings and meetings.  If we see them during the meeting and event they will be secure for the Scout until the end of the meeting and event (would not want anything to happen to it).  

This can be a challenge and actually do not have great solution.  So many parents want that instant access to their Scouts 24/7.

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I have understanding for the shared views.  I'm looking for any clarification BSA sends or provides.  

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5 minutes ago, fred johnson said:

I have understanding for the shared views.  I'm looking for any clarification BSA sends or provides.  

So - Looking at the G2SS

  • Electronics are not mentioned in G2SS
  • Phone is mentioned multiple times, no clarification or guidance except:

image.thumb.png.52aca9e88286c3540cfda3276e5e09c1.png

No firm guidance from BSA

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@fred johnson, it doesn't sound like you're looking for safety guidance. It sounds like you're looking for a section in the BSHB on courtesy with electronic devices. That chapter has not been written.

Even among adults, I think the rules of conduct have yet to gel. For example, does anybody know if Robert's Rules have guidance on use of digital communication/teleconferencing?

We've boiled our guidance down to: When at a meeting, be at the meeting.

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Yah, I love it when rules get overly complicated in their attempt to explain the simple concept, impractical ways to implement something simple, or definitively undefined. *sigh* Leads to all sorts of trouble of under- and over-enforcement. I"m afraid we're going to see a lot of that in the next few years before they get a better handle on it.  It won't go away, but some things will get worked out better. 

A great example of a good use of a cellophone... 

Last year a SM took a picture a la cellophone of an adult copperhead inside the shower house to send to the camp director. Instant message - "Shower house <location>. Right now. Thought you might be interested." SM and a few other adults were making sure the shower house was empty of anyone using it. (Thankfully it was during the day when all scouts were busy elsewhere so it was clear.)

Said camp director with ranger appeared in a few minutes, roaring (as much as a truck should roar on the summer camp road), johnny on the spot!  Snake disappeared through a hole in a screen to the maintenance area between all the showers and bathrooms. Eventually he was captured. Hole was marked to be fixed. 

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2 hours ago, qwazse said:

We've boiled our guidance down to: When at a meeting, be at the meeting.

That's my philosophy too.  It's not about the phone or device.  It's about participating, being involved and interacting.  IMHO, it happens whether it's the phone or some other reason.  Heck, we have a scout who might as well have a phone.  But if it's not the phone, it's magic cards, foot balls, books or other games.  

I was just wondering if there was any guidance.  So far the only guidance I see is safe scouting rules and it's a tool to learn how to be use.

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Our Troop allows phones prior to the meeting.  Once the meeting is called to order, they must be put away.

Scouts may bring them on outings, to be used in the car on the way to and from.  Once we arrive at the event, they are to be put away.  We do have the occasional request for a phone to be used for pictures, which is granted when appropriate.  The Scouts may use them in their tent at night, until lights out, and with headphones only.

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14 hours ago, MikeS72 said:

Our Troop allows phones prior to the meeting.  Once the meeting is called to order, they must be put away.

Scouts may bring them on outings, to be used in the car on the way to and from.  Once we arrive at the event, they are to be put away.  We do have the occasional request for a phone to be used for pictures, which is granted when appropriate.  The Scouts may use them in their tent at night, until lights out, and with headphones only.

I'm good with that as long as the adults follow the same rules.  :)  

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I know the OP wasn't looking for a debate, but since the question has been answered, I'll say this...If I were given the task of making a rule for this....

I would rule against rules that make scouts lock them in the car for the weekend or otherwise prohibit them totally.  Instead I would outline some very simple guidelines for limited use using common sense and courtesy....such as don't use them at the meal table unless it's doing something to support the ongoing group face to face conversation such as looking up the answer to a question or to take a photo of a special moment with friends.  The only restriction would be around bath/shower houses...but that rule is already covered in the GTSS so nothing more would need to be written about that.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with scouts using them during down time or as a tool for any of their many possible uses.  No different than a novel (book), handbook or reference, map, camera, compass, alarm clock, watch, and on and on and on......  Just like in so many other ways Scouting should be a place to teach boys to use common courtesy in the real world.

In our old troop the scouts locked their phones in the car when not travelling.  Meanwhile the adults would use their phones throughout the week in manners just as I described.  I see no problem in what the adults did with them, EXCEPT the hypocrisy.

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Posted (edited)

Whatever is encouraged, it should be for the character growth of the scout. The goal of the scouting program is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law (BSA Mission). In short, character. Character is simply judging self-behavior and making choices without being influenced by our personal nature and temptations. I think the phone would be a great tool toward developing character because it is such a strong temptation and repetition of habits. The scout is forced to make a choice against his nature and bad habits for the good of making the right choice. Adults see phones as an annoying distraction. But annoying distractions are the best kinds of teachers of self-discipline. 

And it's not just a great teacher of character for the scouts, it's a great practice for adults of using tools to develop discipline. I compare it to the uniform. Scouts struggle with the uniform because they are concerned about their identity. Adults struggle because the uniform represents respect and not wearing it correctly shows disrespect. Adults need to shift their ideals of the uniform to developing the habit of making ethical and moral choices. Scouts need to learn and understand the practical reasoning for the uniform and what it represents to the scouting community. It requires both groups to grow and mature in their respective places in the scouting program.  The adults learn better skills for helping scouts grow, and the scout develop a better self-discipline and making decisions.  

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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