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Should Cyber Chip require to take any Virtual Merit Badge class?

Should Cyber Chip require to take any Virtual Merit Badge class? They may involve online safety, right?

Are you asking whether having a current Cyber Chip is a prerequisite for taking MB classes online? I’m not aware of any such requirement from the BSA. Putting that aside, I personally think that scouts and adults should both be mindful of the potential for online problems in a more general sense. In that regard, I think that regular emphasis on digital safety, as part of a comprehensive personal safety program, is valuable. I’m not honestly sure that the Cyber Chip, in its current form, is really anything more than symbolic service to that goal.


I would say that it’s highly recommended, but I haven’t seen explicit requirements outside of Scout rank, Star rank, and some merit badges (such as Digital Technology, Photography, Programming). At a minimum, it would probably be a good idea to review online safety concepts (such as what information to share vs. keep private, etc.).

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Requiring a Scout to have Cyber Chip to do an online Merit Badge would be adding to the requirements which is not allowed. You can suggest the have Cuber Chip but cannot require it.


That is not adding to the requirements of the merit badge. It is adding conditions to participation in a class. There are many examples of conditions put on participation in a class.

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In reply to:

I disagree with your opinion.

My opinion

Safety First

  • “Safety” rules takes precedence over “program” (advancement) rules
  • Scouts, Scouters and parents need to be educated about the risks and rules for safely using the internet before using the internet. Ditto for other modes of communications

Safety Rules

  • The rules (and laws) are likely to be different for Scouts under the age of 13 years old.
  • BSA youth protection rules apply to adult / youth (child) communications
  • How to prevent online bullying by peers (or adults) is another safety concern.

Adding cyberchip as a requirement to do an online mb is adding a requirement. Adding requirements isn’t permitted.

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While that is true, there is no “requirement” that a merit badge must be done online. Yes, that’s where we are now–but a scout could wait in theory.

I think the real question is: does a scout have to have the Cyber Chip to do anything online in a scout setting?

No. To do anything online Scouts and Scouters must follow the G2SS.

It appears “Scout” Rank Requirement 6 needs to have been approved (and Cyber Chip recharged if necessary to remain grade-level current). See also JenniferOlinger’s post:

Some quotes and links

Scout Rank Requirement 6

Scouts BSA Handbook for Girls, 2019 printing

With your parent or guardian, complete the exercises in the pamphlet How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide and earn the Cyber Chip Award for your grade

(See the pamphlet inserted inside front page as well as handbook pages 408-411)

References for Scouts BSA Program

Youth Protection and Adult Leadership

Guide to Safe Scouting, Chapter 1, Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse, extracts:

Adult Supervision

One-on-one contact between adult leaders and youth members is prohibited both inside and outside of Scouting. (Youth Protection and Barriers to Abuse FAQs)

  • In situations requiring a personal conference, the meeting is to be conducted with the knowledge and in view of other adults and/or youth.
  • Private online communications (texting, phone calls, chat, IM, etc.) must include another registered leader or parent.
  • Communication by way of social media (Facebook, Snapchat, etc.) must include another registered leader or parent.

Program Requirements

  • All forms of bullying and harassment including verbal, physical, and cyberbullying are prohibited.
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First, remember that if you have a Webelos scout who crossed over and still has a current Cyber Chip at the time of earning Scout rank, that Cyber Chip meets requirement 6.
To address this issue (along with expiring Cyber Chips) we completed the Cyber Chip during our 1st virtual meeting. We used the breakout room features of Zoom to divide the scouts into grade levels and recharge vs earning for 1st time at grade level. We had two adults in each breakout room leading the scouts through the videos and activities and to maintain two deep leadership. Although we have a smaller troop (14 girls), I have very active adults and even committee members are willing to help whenever needed so they provided the 2nd person in the virtual room.
Note about using Zoom for videos – although you can share your screen so everyone can see the video, the sound doesn’t come through. You can either post the url into the chat, they click on it, watch the video on their own device, then come back together to discuss or you can share your screen to have the video and then using your cell phone, play the same video so that your computer microphone picks up the audio for everyone to hear.

For Scout rank, if you have a Webelos crossover who has an unexpired Cyber Chip for their current school grade, then all the Scout needs to do is demonstrate their knowledge to the Scoutmaster or other designated leader after joining the troop. Should be quick and easy with a phone call or videoconference. If the Cyber Chip has expired, the Scout needs to “recharge” the Cyber Chip.

BSA 2016 Advancement News 2016 March April 2016 page 4.pdf (425.8 KB)

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Why not have a Cyber Chip renewal process as part of your troop calendar? Do it once or twice a year. It doesn’t take a lot of time and this removes all your fears over the thing.

My thoughts on this:

  1. There are many cases where a class has a pre-requisite that isn’t part of the badge. Camps regularly limit certain classes to those of a certain age or rank. But there is NO merit badge with this in it. Get over it.
  2. The Cyber Chip is pathetic and cheesy. We use it because we are obedient. But each year the eye rolls get worse as the same video is watched again.
  3. I think having regular safety discussions with scouts is much more effective than once a year cartoons.
  4. BSA would be better suited to have some expectations of units to hold regular safety items than the piecemeal requirements system they have in place now.

Wow. There’s surprisingly little in the Guide to Safe Scouting that applies here.
I had always been told that the Cyber Chip was the internet equivalent to the Whittling/Totin’ Chip or Firem’n Chit - don’t have the chip/chit = can’t use the tool. Is that not the case?
For comparison purposes, the Guide to Safe Scouting doesn’t mention Firem’n Chit at all, and the only passing mention of the others is in a table on the “Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations or Excavations” page.

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I totally agree. CyberChip should be rewritten. Not thrown out, just redone as it is not worth it. We do it too, but make sure we have a conversation with the patrol each time a Scout qualifies.

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While I agree that the Cyber Chip is a little cheesy, it’s not horrible. It seems a bit geared toward the younger (Cub) Scouts.

But it is the understanding in our troop that scouts are required to have the Cyber Chip to do anything online with Scouts. Much like you need the Totin’ Chip to carry a knife or the Firem’n Chit to start the fires.

It really has nothing to do with the merit badge classes of the OP, but to use that tool for the class, I think the scouts are supposed to have it. I mean really, it only takes about half an hour.


This is 2016 being quoted.
Guide to Advancement 2019 is the publication we follow and can negate any previous publication.

An event needs to ensure that all its scouts are kept safe and know what they should or should not do so Cyber Chip can be an event requirement. I cannot tell you how many times working as a merit badge counselor that I have gotten emails directly from the Scout without a second adult added in which I then have to reply adding is by counselor buddy because I do not know the parent email!

Remember too an event looks at the bigger picture --all the Scouts! For many the virtual is a new uncharted waters that they will be learning the ropes to. A parent which is often where these types of complaints come from only looks at --one Scout.

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This is a no brainier. Every boy must update his Cyber Chip every year. So yes he needs an up to date Cyber Chip to do anything in Scouting.

There is no requirement to keep a Cyber Chip updated. In Scouts BSA, an unexpired Cyber Chip is only required for Scout and Star ranks and some Merit Badges.

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