I feel like a fossil. I was going to start this article by saying “in a galaxy, long, long ago” for that is sometimes how I feel. I remember children playing and running and laughing outside. Libraries were always crowded because parents read and read to their children. Homes had libraries, and kids read real books on a rainy day. We had radios and phonographs. What we didn’t have was TV. I remember hearing that a neighbor had a television. How odd. As word got around those neighbors invited all the kids around to come to their house to watch “Mickey Mouse.“ We all sat there fascinated. My family didn’t have a TV for many years and it was regulated for content. There was no violence, sex, or profanity. Kids still played outside. It seems everyone was relatively unchanged. I guess post World War II, it was a kinder, gentler place in America. We all had lost friends, neighbors and family members. Today, I wish for life the way it used to be.
The internet surged around the year 2000, and has only increased our everyday use of technology. Interesting statistics have shown that he age of use and income could be related. Children as young as three are users and use increases dramatically by age six. By 2013, the emphasis turned to the mobile internet, with 300 billion people connected worldwide.
Enter Cub Scouts and the decision parents make as to the future of their children. Although we cannot prove it statistically for now, excessive use of the internet appears to lead to depression, lack of socialization skills, and overall lethargy. There is not agreement as to whether a child who has to be plugged in is addicted. Is this what we want for our kids?
If a child joins Cub Scouts they can at least spend part of their time outdoors, unplugging from the internet world and explore their own. There is hiking and camping as well as weekly activities. BSA is even enhancing this program with the introduction of the CYBER CHIP program. This program starts at grade one and progresses each year with Cub Scouts and older Scouts learning more each year about the correct use of technology, with equivalent awards. It is felt that unplugging is perhaps should be a family affair. Parents can set an example and unplug when not necessary, and be more active with their children.
In all fairness, much can be said for the learning capabilities a child can obtain from the internet. When children are young they need parental supervision to gain proper internet skills. As they age, parents can place parental controls to keep their children safe from things they should not be involved with. It happened with the TV, and now I see the internet used too often as the new age’s baby sitter.
I believe that the Cyber Chip program explains the Scout answer to the internet problem that upsets parents. It starts as most children become active internet users, and are entering school. Try unplugging and get into Scouting while your kids are young enough to benefit from the many activities, while learning to be better human beings in this world of technology.