Cyber Chip Program
Youths today spend more time on the internet than on anything else. They are perpetually hooked on to an electronic device. Hence, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA)’s Cyber Chip program is an appropriate step taken to protect the youth while they are online. In partnership with NetSmartz, they have developed this Youth Net Protection tool that is designed to look like a smart-phone. Some of the issues the program addresses are protecting personal information, cyber bullying, netiquette, cell phone use, gaming, texting, blogging, identity theft and appropriate use of social media.
The program gives different choices for cub scouts (grades 1-3, 4-5) and Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts, etc. (grades 6-8, 9-12). Each grade has materials tailored to match age-appropriateness. Cub Scouts receive a patch in blue, while Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Sea Scouts and Venturers get a patch with green highlights.
These chips are available at www.scouting.org/cyberchip. Anyone can apply by downloading and filling the form. This promotes a commitment to do what’s right in the cyber world. For grades 1-3 and 4-5, Level 1 of the Internet Safety Pledge has to be signed. For grades 6-8 and 9-12, Level 2 of the Internet Safety Pledge has to be signed. Videos are available that promote the use of internet tracking and safety devices. The safety pledges mainly include pledges for good behaviour, avoiding rudeness and meeting unknown people, respect people over the internet and give high priority in keeping parents informed.
Cyber chips can be used by parents and unit leaders. Cyber chip program information has to be incorporated in council or district websites. Unit leaders can tailor the chip as per their requirements and develop fun challenges for the scouts. These chips expire annually and can be recharged each year at the NetSmatz Recharge area.