Boys' Life

(i)

 

Learning(i)

Grab bag of fun Scout-style activities and articles.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Various sections promote books, reading, and basic survival skills and offer other helpful resources.

Violence & scariness

A few games involve fighting and shooting, but kids generally don't see any blood or gore.

Sexy stuff

The site contains only a couple minor references to sex: Two years ago, a user posted a comment under the username "sex"; and a list of requirements for the Family Life badge encourages discussion about "how the body changes, and making responsible decisions dealing with sex." But kids won't see any sexually charged content. 

Language

Photo captions and other comments are approved before they go live. However, a couple of swear words have somehow slipped through over the years; two users posted comments with the word" s--t," in 2007 and early 2014. 

Consumerism

Kids can subscribe to Boys' Life magazine on the site, and they'll see a few ads. Gear-buying guides list specific products but don't link directly to websites that sell them; some posts in the Ask the Gear Guy blog, however, suggest specific brands.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some archived magazine articles advise against steroid use, smoking, drunk driving, and other topics.

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

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading
  • writing

Science

  • gravity
  • physics

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • investigation
  • logic

Self-Direction

  • personal growth

Responsibility & Ethics

  • honoring the community
  • making wise decisions

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

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.

Learning Approach

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.

Support

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 kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading
  • writing

Science

  • gravity
  • physics

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • investigation
  • logic

Self-Direction

  • personal growth

Responsibility & Ethics

  • honoring the community
  • making wise decisions

Kids can learn about wilderness skills, ranging from fishing to first aid, and they'll practice reading. Projects will provide practice following instructions; some science-related magic tricks illustrate concepts such as air pressure, centrifugal force, and gravity. Most of the original site games are just-for-fun activities, but a few have some educational value. A merit-badge guessing game, for example, provides word recognition and language practice; a sandwich-making game reinforces time-management skills; and an online chess game involves logic. Morse code games can help kids improve listening and communication skills. Boys' Life is a well-rounded resource for all things outdoorsy.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

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?

QUALITY

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.

  •  

This review of Boys' Life was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

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