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Bear Den Leaders - suggestions for recharging Cyber Chips (NetSmartz) 2020 version

TLDR;

Use two of these three “new” resources on NetSmartz to satisfy Bears’ Cyber Chip recharge requirements:

  1. “Know The Rules” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO7ObEah6rM

  2. “NetSmartz Generation” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5wzuYcxT6M

  3. Gecko’s Goof E-book. https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.190.232/814.5c1.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/ebook-webstersg-gecko-goof.pdf

Then, talk to your den about griefing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griefer (my own recommendation, not an official requirement).

For Bears who need to recharge their Cyber Chip, the requirement says they should complete two “new” resources on Netsmartz. So which new NetSmartz resources should you use?

I just spent an hour sifting through the updated NetSmartz site (so you don’t have to - you’re welcome) and discovered that most of the new material doesn’t apply to third graders, or the content is weak unwieldy (see the 32 page PPT).

Video section:

  • “Into the Cloud” Six video episodes about social media. Not really applicable to 8 and 9 year-olds, as the minimum age for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc, is 13 or older, and I honestly don’t know any kids that age who uses social media.
  • “Way 2 Go” video is about staying safe while getting to and from school. Good info but it has nothing to do with cyber safety.
  • “Connecting With New Friends Online” good info, but again, this is directed at older kids who have their own mobile phones and are using social media. Most 8 and 9 year-olds won’t relate to the subject matter.
  • “It’s Ok to Tell”. This video instructs kids on what they should do if they see inappropriate images online. I suppose this one is age appropriate, but I found the presentation awkward and a little dark.

Resource section:

  • “Being a Goof Digital Citizen”, a presentation for elementary school children ages 3-5. This is a 30-minute, 32 slide PowerPoint presentation that requires a laptop, projector, screen, and sound system. I don’t think most den leaders or parents are going to want to do this.

  • “Safety Stories” is an 8-page PDF printout that asks each child kids to affix: a pictures of himself or herself, pictures of trusted adults, a picture of their home, a picture of their computer, as well as list personal details including their address and telephone numbers. This one seems wrong for so many reasons. First, who is going to go through the trouble of printing pictures of their home and computer? And second, such a document would contain way too much personal information! It would have to be shredded rather than thrown in the trash!

  • “Delivery For Webster” E-book. The premise is weird: if you click on a pop-up and submit your address, you’ll receive free stuff (like a broken record player) in the mail. Bizarre.

  • “The Princess’s Password” E-book. The moral of the story is good: use strong passwords and change them often, but the storyline is strange. The girl’s online virtual castle gets ruined because she didn’t change her password, but then it gets restored to its former glory after she updates her password. I know of no game that messes up your buildings if you don’t change your password occasionally. You can tell these stories were written by someone who has little gaming experience.

And finally the good news…

These are the three best “new” resources on NetSmartz that are applicable to Bears. The videos are short, to-the-point, lighthearted songs. The e-book is decent:

  1. “Know The Rules” (1:53). Video about establishing rules when online friends ask to meet in person. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO7ObEah6rM

  2. “NetSmartz Generation” (2:07). Warns kids about sharing personal details online. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5wzuYcxT6M

  3. Gecko’s Goof E-book. This is the best of the three e-books. It admonishes kids that not everything they read on the internet is true, and that they should seek out at least three trustworthy sources to verify claims. Good primer for learning how to avoid fake news. https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.190.232/814.5c1.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/ebook-webstersg-gecko-goof.pdf Discussion guide: https://www.missingkids.org/content/dam/netsmartz/downloadable/ebooks/ebook-guide-websters-gecho-goof.pdf

To satisfy the recharging requirements, I’ll email the links to parents and ask that their child watch/read two of these items at home. Then, at the next den meeting, I’ll discuss a very important subject that is strangely absent on NetSmarts, a subject that lots of 8 and 9 year-olds have experienced personally: griefing.

I know MANY 8 and 9 year-olds who play online versions of Minecraft, Roblox, Wizard 101, etc. and griefing is something many of them have experienced or even engaged in themselves.

(If you don’t know what it is, read the Wikipedia page on griefing and then print it out to use as a reference during your den meeting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griefer)

First, I explain why scouts should never engage in griefing: it contradicts many aspects of the Scout Law, it exhibits bad sportsmanship, and it can be a form of cyber bullying. Next, I go over what they should do if they encounter griefing while playing online (log off, switch servers/games, tell a trusted adult, report to admins, etc).

Discussing greifing along with the other topics of cyber safety will give Bears a more complete strategy for staying safe online and practicing good netiquette.

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Or you can complete the Protect Yourself Adventure in lieu of Cyber Chip.

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  1. protect yourself doesn’t cover technology for Bear. Being alternatives for each other makes no sense. Protect Yourself should replace doing the safety booklet.

  2. I hate the netsmarts videos. They’re just tone deaf and some content is not explained at all.

The know the rules video only has CRTs in it. that’s the only computer shown. They put an actual rotary phone on screen. I just did Tech Talk and not one kid knew what a rotary phone was.

The production value is horrible. In netsmarts generation, at 1:18 some characters are actually fuzzy on screen. they’re animated, how are they fuzzy? In another scene the animated kids shake their heads violently

You can barely understand the audio. At 1:35 they say "stay away from the kids of something generation. It’s incomprehensible without subtitles.

For content the netsmartz generation video begins with someone telling about a scam
They say I better “UYN and report it” It includes a button that won’t really exist on the computer. Then they never explain what the phrase UYN means

I wouldn’t waste your time with the videos. Make your own content instead. Cover cyber bullying, not sharing information and getting an adult and you’ll be well ahead of the videos

@KevinCarlyle I agree with you about Protect Yourself. That should replace the exercises in the Youth Protection insert in the handbook - not Cyber Chip. And yes, the NetSmartz content is not great. My goal in posting this info was to give den leaders a ‘head’s up’ as to which content is the most tolerable. I also agree that it’s not hard to come up with a better presentation ourselves. This info will help den leaders who want to adhere to the requirements and stay within the program. Personally, I’ll have my bears go through the motions and watch the two short videos at home, but when they get to the meeting, I’ll present my own material that is much more comprehensive and relevant.

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Having just done Cyber Chip for my tigers, I’ll have to agree that the material is quite dated, gamified, and mostly irrelevant.

What helped after checking the ‘mandatory video’ box is then sitting the scouts around in a circle, and then discussing, ‘what is the internet’, ‘what devices do your family have that connect’, etc. Motions gone through and then updated for relevancy. While we all wish that the videos were updated to be more modern…

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Protect Yourself Rules DOES count toward rank advancement in lieu of Cyber Chip. From https://www.scouting.org/programs/cub-scouts/preview-adventures/ :

“It may be earned in place of the Cyber Chip requirement for Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Arrow of Light badges of rank. (Lion’s do not earn Cyber Chip). If used in place of the Cyber Chip requirement, it may not be used as an elective adventure towards that badge of rank.”

@AprilMcMillan you are correct. Protect Yourself Rules does indeed count toward rank advancement in place of the Cyber Chip. The problem is that the content of Protect Yourself Rules is nearly identical to the exercises found in the pamphlet “How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide”, which all cubs must complete every year to earn rank. Also, Protect Yourself contains nothing about online safety. As I’m sure you’re aware, today’s youth are surrounded by devices connected to the internet: computers, tablets, gaming consoles, and mobile phones. It’s really important that they learn how to be safe online - how to keep private information private, how to deal with online “friends” (aka strangers) who want to meet up in person, what to do if they see inappropriate content online, how to maintain good “netiquette” while engaging others online (on social media or in online gaming), etc.

I honestly don’t understand the logic of having Protect Yourself Rules replace the Cyber Chip. It would make much more sense if Protect Yourself could be done in lieu of the exercises in the handbook pamphlet.

If anyone does choose to do Protect Yourself Rules, I’d still strongly recommend doing Cyber Chip as well, as the information it covers is really important. True, the NetSmartz content isn’t the greatest, but it can serve as a starting point for more relevant discussions with the cubs about online safety.

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