Sure, you’re probably wondering why would a group like the Cub Scouts, who encourage kids to ‘go outside and play’ add a merit badge that seemingly encourages kids to ‘lock yourself in your room, deprive yourself of basic necessities like food and sleep, and play video games for hours’?
Let’s face it, the generation behind us knows way more about technology than we do. The rate at which our youth are being introduced to technology is astonishing. The side-effect is there are some areas of technology where parents haven’t been able to successfully monitor and control their kids’ activities. One of those areas is video games, especially the online gaming arena. The ability of kids to hop on a computer at school or public library, or their own netbook and download a game can possibly clash with your ability to actively monitor your child’s gaming activities. As a result, the Cub Scouts may be on to something by offering a ‘Gaming Badge’ (stay with me on this one).
Before I plead my case, let’s look at the requirements at attaining this badge:
- With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
- Compare two game systems (for example, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and so on). 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 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.
So it’s not as simple as plopping down on the sofa and beating a couple of games to earn the badge. Based on the list above, by earning the badge, scouts are being taught how to be responsible in buying games; how to limit their time playing, the advantages of playing educational games and/or games in their age range; and how to involve their family and friends in the gaming experience.
My take: According to a 2009 study, 68% of US households play video games – Which means way more kids are in the home instead of participating in outdoor activities like Cub Scouts. So whether you outlaw or restrict gaming in your home, somehow, they are going to get exposed. To my knowledge, there aren’t too many (if any) groups or organizations that are teaching responsible gaming. So the Cub Scouts, by offering a Gaming badge could possibly fill a void of lack of education and accountability by the video gaming industry whose profits are skyrocketing as we speak, AND by parents who are simply ‘not in the know’ when it comes to the sophistication (and questionable content) of video games…and the Cub Scouts may just see their participation numbers increase.
What do you think? Could the gaming badge be a good tool in teaching kids responsible gaming? Or am I reaching, and the Cub Scouts are just assimilating into today’s youth culture and not setting an example?Category: Gaming | Tags: Badges, Cub Scouts, Gaming, online gaming, PlayStation, wii, xbox