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Electronics, what do you think?

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Hey guys, I was just thinking about my troop, and what needs changed to make it better. One of the things that occurred to me, was electronics, more specifically cellphones, and mp3 players. During the scout meeting it seems like I have to say "Put that away" at the least 5 times, and it's actually the same people usually, but it does vary. I began to wonder, should I let them use phones, if they aren't necessarily doing anything else? For example is it okay for the scout to send a text message before the meeting officially starts with the color guard walking down the aisle? How about after the boring part of the meeting, and during the game time? If I allow them to use cellphones during meetings, where's the limit? Camping trips? I'm sure I'm not going to have scouts pulling their phones out while we are on a hike, but will it be controllable during the "off time" of a camp out? I certainly don't want to see my troop all sitting at a table with their phones out, or the iPods plugged in. So gimmie some advice, who knows you might learn something too.


Michael Griffin

Southern Sierra Council

T105 - SPL

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I kinda think that here in the forum, we have already spend lot of time on his subject.

But for the record.

My feelings are that:

I believe that there is a time and a place for just about everything.

I would think a Scout using his cell phone when something else that he was involved in or supposed to be doing, puts him in the wrong. - But, so would him reading the newspaper or his Scout Handbook.

Rules that ban these don't teach the Scouts anything, them learning what to do and when to do it. Is an important life lesson.

Cell phones and other electronic devises are no doubt a big distraction. Not just for kids! I teach a couple of classes at work, mainly to younger guys (25 -35) Before we can get started we have to wait until they have finished showing each other whatever is on their phone. (A lot of which is stuff that I'm sure they wouldn't show their wives or girlfriends.)

I'd be happy to have the PLC discuss the use of phones and games and go along with what they come up with.


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THere's a huge respect and manners issue here. It is one thing for people to have phones, etc., and another to know when and how to use them in an appropriate way.


If your troop decides to go with anything other than a total ban, you may want to think about what the expectations are regarding the appropriate use, and how you will communicate those expectations, and whether the adults are willing to abide by those same expectations as well.


As a side note, as someone who teaches a lot of late teens and early 20-somethings, I can tell you it is blindingly obvious when someone is trying to "hide" their cell phone or other electronic device in their hoodie pocket so that they can send/receive messages or play games or whatever during a time when they shouldn't be doing that. They're always so shocked when I point this out to them - they seem to think they're being surreptitious. If you do have any discussions about appropriate electronics usage, you might want to point this out to your troop mates.

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" Where do you draw the line?"

I think the question isn't so much where the line is drawn? But who draws it?

We are an organization that talks about teaching choice.

If the only choice is to obey or not obey?

Is that a real choice?

What will young people learn from it?


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I've had a change of heart in this area over the last few years. After a couple of incidents where patrols were working separate from the troop leadership and they needed help, I now actually encourage PLs to bring their cell phones.


Let me explain the way we handle electronics.


First off, at meetings, we should never see a scout plugged into his iPod. As for cell phones, we teach respectful use. That means ringtone turned off and it stays in your pocket. If there's some reason you need to talk to mom/dad, fine. Girlfriend can wait. If a scout steps out to take a call, someone from leadership will usually step out with him. The scouts know the rules and we rarely have a problem.


On campouts, iPods and other handheld things like games are not encouraged, but may be used in cars on the drive. If they are seen in the campsite, they go home with me and the scout will be coming by my house later for a quick conference. This only happened once and they all got the word. (Frankly, my preference would be to not allow iPods and games even in the cars, but I have bigger things to work on first.)


As I said at the top, PLs and senior leadership are allowed to use cell phones on campouts for communication within the troop if a need arises. The SPL/PLs will often also use them as an alarm clock. If we see it being used for anything other than that, or checking the time, it's mine. I had to give one warning about two years ago and no problems since.


Rather than giving in to the social pressure to use electronics, I like to think of it as using our resources. It would be tragic if a PL needed assistance in a hurry and we had prohibited him from carrying a device he already owned which could make a difference. In a similar vein, we've at times been very happy we had a Blackberry to check weather radar or a portable Ham radio to get broadcast weather reports. I've also been known to carry local Ham repeater frequency information along with the radio in the outback so we have an emergency communication capability outside of cell phone coverage.


Some electronics can be very useful tools. Make the expectations clear and hold them to it.

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Sure - they don't need them for one meeting a week. But I've given up trying to make them do so.


Seems every kid in this area has a cell phone by the time he's in 7th or 8th grade. Kids and parents get used to the electronic leash. Good luck fighting that one.


I've noticed another thing - it seems to be cool not to own a watch, so they're always using the clock on cell phone.


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A little over a year ago the PLC took over policing the use of electronics.


The Scoutmaster and I got tired of playing the "Figure out who has a cell phone" game.


Since the PLC took charge I have not really worried about it. Several Scouts carry cell phones all the time. The Scouts use MP3 players and handheld games while traveling.


Are they texting on Campouts? Probably. Have I seen anyone texting on a campout? Nope.


The PLC does a good job of making sure all the Scouts are tuned in when things are going on.


I think I remember someone having said something like "Never do a job a boy can do." The Scouts can be reasonable if you let them. Take that from them and they won't be.

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Electronics are here to stay. May as well get used to it. My 12 year old First Class son carries his cell phone just about all the time, by my request. But he won't wear the watch I got for him. When I started to get on him about not having a watch at camp, I was reminded that he uses his cell phone for both a watch and an alarm. I know for a fact he hardly uses it as a phone and almost always has it on vibrate. For my son, it is a tool.


We also must remember that being in Scouting is a "choice". If electronics use is a large problem in a troop rather than a particular couple of boys, I would suggest that troop needs to reconsider their program. They are choosing to do something different with their time. If you are engaging the boys with meaningful, challenging activities, they will not be playing their Ipods. Individual cases can be dealt with by the SPL.


Manners also need to be reinforced with young boys. Adults must set the examples. We should not be seen making and taking calls during a meeting. If my phone vibrates, I check the number at an appropriate time. If it is a parent or another important call, I will return it away from the meeting. Teach your boys manners by setting the good example. They will pattern themselves off the male role models in their lives.

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Alot of youth are plugged into electronics. But timing is everything. Here are just a few of my thoughts.


At least for cell phones, during a recent NYLT the admin office held the cellphones and electronic games until graduation. We noticed that most of the youth did not wear watches, but used their cell phone to tell time and also as an alarm clock. I don't know if that is a good excuse for all of them, but our NYLT will have to list electronic travel clock in our future list to bring to NYLT.


Regarding your troop. If there is an "after the boring part of the meeting", then your PLC is not doing their job. Also, there should not be a game time, but an interpatrol activity, to re-inforce the Scouting skill just being taught-learned.


A troop meeting should be full of Scouting skills and events, from start to finish. Your fellow Scouts can make phone calls after the meeting. If not, they are losing out and doing themselves a disservice.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

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