Monday, May 17, 2010

A Merit Badge for Video Games?

The Boy Scouts of America have added a new merit pin -- for video gaming.

Understandably, the blogosphere has lit up with criticism of the new award. Those critical of the idea complain that today's boys already spend too little time outside, too much time gaming. They argue that today's boys need little incentive to take up a pastime that already consumes many of their waking hours. (Kids today spend an average of 1.25 hours a day video gaming.) They cite alarming studies linking increased video game play with decreased grades in school.

And yet...

What ever happened to "all things in moderation?" Like them or not, video games are a part of our modern culture, and a boy today without knowledge of video games is like a zebra without stripes: he'll simply never fit in with the group. The Boy Scouts of America aren't encouraging non-stop video gaming -- heck, even my video game designer brother doesn't encourage that. Instead, they've instituted a program that encourages boys to take a critical look at video games, that encourages them to play with their families and to monitor and control their spending.

What's so bad about that?

What do you think of the new merit award? I'd love to hear your opinion!


  1. That's a tough one. I have seen some interesting positive results from gaming such as learning to work together and problem solving, but I have also seen highly addictive tendencies from one of my boys. He simply cannot stop and even when he physically stops, his brain stays trapped in game scenarios. We haven't had a game system in our home for four years as a result.

    Giving a badge for gaming? Would we offer a badge for anything else that is potentially addicting to a portion of the population? Not everyone has an issue, but when it is an issue, it affects many things I would expect the Scouts stand for--relationships, physical activity, schoolwork, etc.

  2. I think it's a great idea. It's a sign of the times. The Boy Scouts have figured out a way to make gaming more useful than just being what parents might think is a waste of time. We know it's not to boys.

  3. Ummm...not to be insensitive, but some (okay, a very few) boys don't play games because they come from extremely strict homes or even poor homes. I think those boys benefit from a little exposure to the life of average kids. Also, I think a gaming badge may make boy scouts/cub scouts a little more 'cool,' something the scout image desperately needs. Lastly, I'd imagine the requirements for the badge call for some diversity of game playing and require some education in ratings and avoidance of excess, both in time wasted and violence. I don't know if that's the case, but that would be a valuable thing to educate boys about.

  4. First reaction: can't they find anything better to do with their time? Shouldn't the Boy Scouts be promoting all of those great outdoor skills that no one else is promoting in our times?

    Second reaction: education on all topics is a good thing, when it is age-appropriate and headed in a direction a mother is comfortable with. ("If momma ain't happy...")

    Nice topic, Jennifer!