Video Games for Fun and Merit

iTZKooPA on Twitter asked my thoughts about the whole Boy Scout/video games merit badge thing.  A couple things to note here — this isn’t for Boy Scouts, but the younger scouts (Webelos, Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts), and because of that, it’s not a merit badge (it’s a loop and a pin).

While the kneejerk reaction to this by some of the press is negative (what, you’re REWARDING kids for playing games?), I think that’s unfair.  If you take time to read through the requirements to earn this, you’re going to see that they’re really emphasizing responsibility with gaming time, increasing knowledge of the ratings system, socializing with others, learning from parents how to spend money wisely, and even using games to help with school subjects.  These are the positive aspects of gaming that you rarely hear in the media, because they’re not as sensational, so it’s great that the Scouts are promoting them.

I’d also respond to anyone opposed to this by pointing out that the Scouts aren’t only focused on outdoor activities — they have plenty of awards and badges you can earn for things you do at home and for fun.

But ultimately, gaming is a huge part of our youth culture, and it’s useless to fight that.  Better to understand it, promote the positives and teach kids how to balance their gaming time with other priorities and activities.  I know I will with my children.

8 thoughts on “Video Games for Fun and Merit

  1. Video games? As a children’s hobby?!

    Why, in my day we just broke windows and left flaming bags of poop on neighbours steps and got in fist fights with other neighbourhood kids.

    Video games will cause our kids to stay inside and not be degenerates out of boredom!

  2. I think this goes with any new kind of technology. And even though videogaming is not new, it is newly integrated into mainstream consciousness.

    As a teacher, I try to work new technology into my classes. I want to be able to get blogging involved somehow in my composition classes, but I’m not quite sure how to do that without it seeming like a pointless journaling assignment. The same goes for social media.

    In 10 years, 20 maybe, I hope that posts like this will be irrelevant.

  3. Syp, your link is broken or outdated. I found the Video Games Belt Loop & Pin page here: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/cubscouts/cub%20scouts/uniformsandawards/sanda/video_games.aspx

    Tiger, Wolf & Bear Cubs (Grades 1, 2, & 3) can earn the Belt Loop by completing these three requirements:
    * Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Check your video games to be sure they are right for your age.
    * With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming. Do your best to follow this schedule.
    * Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.

    Webelos (Grades 4 & 5) can also earn the Academics Pin by first earning the Belt Loop, then completing five of the following requirements:
    * With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
    * Compare two game systems and explain some of the differences between the two. List good reasons to purchase or use a game system.
    * Play a video game with family members in a family tournament.
    * Teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.
    * List at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play your favorite video game.
    * Play an age-appropriate video game with a friend for one hour.
    * Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.
    * Choose a game you might like to purchase. Compare the price for this game at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the store return policy and manufacturer’s warranty.
    * With an adult’s supervision, install a gaming system.

    As the Cub Master for my son’s Pack (I got promoted from Den Leader) I am soooo going to make sure my son earns both the Belt Loop and Pin, and will present them to him at our Annual End-of-Year Campfire Ceremony in two weeks 😀

  4. Angry Mob: “Gaming is making our kids irresponsible escapist thrill seakers! Someone needs to teach them moderation and responsibility!”

    Cub Scouts: “We’re teaching kids the value of moderation and responsibility with their game time. They will be rewarded for proving they attained these most excellent qualities which they can apply to every aspect of their lives.”

    Angry Mob: “…DEATH TO VIDEO GAMES!”

  5. Whoever thought to add this as a Cub Scout merit is a GENIUS. Kids who expose themselves to different kinds of games and responsibility in it will be prepared to not fall into some of the traps of gaming, but will be able to find great, wholesome, even thought-provoking entertainment.

  6. Two things I struggled with when I was a Cub Scout regarding video games, that I think should be addressed in the requirements:

    A requirement to show patience when taking turns playing games with others.

    A requirement to let your mom play for more than 10 seconds before confiscating the controller to demonstrate proper use.

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