What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Boys' Life is the companion website to the classic magazine published by the Boy Scouts of America. It has projects, blogs, games, jokes, and lots of outdoorsy advice and activities aimed toward boys. The site screens blog comments before they go live, reducing the chance your kid will come across bad language, links to inappropriate sites, or other iffy content. Even non-Scouts can get lots of ideas from this jam-packed site.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
Thinking & Reasoning
- personal growth
Responsibility & Ethics
- honoring the community
- making wise decisions
Engagement, Approach, Support
Kids can get involved by answering polls, submitting photos and jokes, or commenting on content. Projects provide at-home learning opportunities. The fun, age-appropriate multilevel games also should be a hit.
The site's abundant information includes primers on camping and outdoor survival, first aid, and fishing. Kids will learn how to build things, get game tips, and learn about tracking animals, avoiding hypothermia, and much more.
The site could use more information for parents or other learning-extension activities; its biggest offerings are links to sites with more scouting information, including a magazine for adult volunteers, and contests with giveaways.
What's it about?
The Boys' Life website, geared toward 6- to 17-year-olds, is an online counterpart to the Boy Scouts of America's official print magazine. Kids can check out jokes; submit funny photo captions; view pictures of scout troops, nature, and more; and access gear checklists for different outings. Blogs provide information on books, fishing, and other topics. Kids also can play more than 60 games, read past Boys' Life issues dating back to 1911, or learn how to, for example, build a box kite or fashion a table out of branches.
Is it any good?
BOYS' LIFE has an impressive amount of content for a free online magazine, ranging from wilderness survival advice to camping tips and book reviews. An in-depth projects section is one of the best offerings; it includes instructions for dozens of creative endeavors, ranging from making snowshoes out of pipes and cords to baking homemade dog treats. Some activities also feature an encouraging note about a Boy Scout troop that's tried the project.
You don't have to be a scout to access or enjoy the site. Kids will see some troop-activity photos and can learn about scouting, but most of the information focuses more on outdoor-living examples and instruction. A few items feel a bit short; surprisingly, videos on sharpening knives and axes don't contain a warning or much safety information.
But, overall, kids will find plenty of interesting, informative reading selections, and they can safely share their thoughts via moderator-approved comments. Adults write the content and edit the magazine, but the site really feels like it was custom-made for kids -- which should help grade-school and teen boys enjoy learning about potentially useful topics such as first aid and handling emergencies.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about posting photos and comments online. Boys' Life encourages you to use a nickname. Why would that be safer than using your real name?
What kinds of pictures or information should you avoid posting on sites that also list some of your personal information, such as your name?
Some of the examples on the site can potentially be dangerous, if handled incorrectly. Talk about basic safety rules and having an adult involved, and ask how your child would handle a situation such as cooking outdoors or sharpening a knife.