It is a reflection of our times that there is considerable controversy over the amount of time a teenager spends in front of a screen. Numerous studies show that screen time for younger children should most definitely be limited. Emails, social media, sport on televisions and school work all conspire to place a child in front of a screen rather than in the outdoors, socialising with their friends or engaging in a hobby.

What then is the stance of scouts in relation to screentime? Every so often, I get told that it is an aim of scouts to keep the scouts away from screens. This is not strictly true. It is a consequence of scouts, not an aim of scouts, that keeps scouts away from screens and give them an alternative. The aim of scouts, simply put, is to produce better citizens. We would be derelict in this aim if we adopted an anti-technology stance. After all, our scouts will encounter technology whether we like it or not. Similarly, we would not be achieving the aim of scouts if we adopted a pro-technology stance and replaced “traditional” scouting with scouting with a technological bias.

Technology is merely a tool. We cannot ignore it and pretend it does not exist. We should not adopt it to the exclusion of other activities. But it can help us and by demonstrating a responsible and appropriate use, we can show our scouts what the place of technology is. We can show that technology has a place in our lives and how to use it to make our lives easier. And we can show that technology has its dangers and help our scouts be responsible in the use of technology.

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