Google Earth

(i)

 

Learning(i)

Must-see geographic exploration tool; watch for iffy videos.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Not difficult to navigate, but the controls aren't entirely intuitive or well named. Locational icons are sometimes incorrect or incorrectly placed.

Violence

Entries include access to YouTube videos, which may include violent content. With enough tapping around, kids can get to videos that include a range of violent activities.

Sex

Entries include access to YouTube videos, which may sexual content. With enough tapping around, kids can get to videos that include nudity; some but not all of these videos require age verification by signing in to Google.

Language

Entries include access to YouTube videos, which may include iffy language. With enough tapping around, kids can get to videos that include harsh language.

Consumerism

You may randomly encounter commercial locations but no direct ads. Entries include access to YouTube videos, which may include commercial content.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Entries include access to YouTube videos, which may include references to drinking, drugs, or smoking. With enough tapping around, kids can get to videos that glorify these activities.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although it doesn't offer the same level of functionality or search power as the PC version, the Google Earth app is still a must-see for any citizen of the modern age. You can still zoom around the earth, select layers, and submit eye-level photos served up courtesy Panoramio. However, you cannot access the full search or other databases or make use of the fantastic PC-version tools and special views. One item unique to the app is a menu of nearby iconic images that you can tap for quick access. Parents should be aware that city entries include access to YouTube videos, which can include iffy content. With enough tapping kids can get to the desktop version of YouTube within the Google Earth app, where they can search for anything they want.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • ecosystems
  • geology
  • plants
  • weather

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • geography
  • global awareness

Arts

  • photography

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • asking questions
  • collecting data

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Visuals are stunning, and the easy access to raw data is unprecedented.

Learning Approach

Google Earth doesn't provide teaching tools, only raw data and some interpretation through the Wikipedia layer. The Earth Gallery feature is still buggy for Android. Despite this, it has very good learning potential.

Support

Help and the tutorial only cover controls. Navigation can be tricky with lots of layers. Only one default database comes with the Android app, and the Earth Gallery feature is still buggy. The Google Earth Community is not linked.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • ecosystems
  • geology
  • plants
  • weather

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • geography
  • global awareness

Arts

  • photography

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • asking questions
  • collecting data

Kids can learn about our amazing world through first-person data -- actual satellite views of the Earth. Kids can see melting ice sheets in Antarctica, devastation from Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, and mining operations in Colombia, as well as photovoltaic arrays in San Francisco and thriving wildlife refuge areas in Hawaii. Unfortunately, the search database is abridged and it lacks the PC version tools and special views as well. Google Earth app is an unparalleled tool for exploring the Earth, though much less powerful than the PC version.

This Learning Rating review was written by Leslie Crenna

What's it about?

Google Earth flies you across the globe using time-delayed satellite images of the Earth including overlaid icons providing facts and services. Look Around button anchors you — limiting viewing to tilt up and down and 360 degrees. When Look Around is off, Pan mode (both ironically named) allows user to explore freely across terrain by swiping. Zoom in with a double click and zoom out by placing and spreading two fingers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Google Earth is an outstanding and unprecedented resource for curious explorers. You can see a satellite view of your own home, famous landmarks, contours of the ocean floor, and open terrain -- all with astonishing detail. You can also share screen shots or submit your own ground-level photos for display on Google Earth. Layers function allows you to display information about notable places, businesses, and relevant outside websites including Wikipedia entries. It's a little creepy to consider that privacy has been altered so dramatically, but at the same time, how cool to be able to zero in on the home of your third cousin on the other side of the country to see where your great-grandfather was born.

The app search function is not nearly as powerful as the PC version, and controls are not entirely intuitive (but help and tutorial provide relatively clear explanations) and screen navigation can lead to selecting informational icons by accident. Loading time can be slow depending on virtual altitude and connection speed, and image quality is occasionally poor. Icons can litter the display when all layers are selected. Most importantly, because the app allows access to YouTube, kids can easily stumble onto (or search for) very iffy content. A setting to block this functionality would be a major improvement.

Families can talk about...

  • Plan a virtual trip to India to see Gandhi's birthplace.

  • Create a special family tour by stringing together searches of residences or travels -- trips you've taken or plan to take someday.

  • Play "Where are we?" 20 questions.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:December 19, 2012
Category:Reference
Size:0.00 MB
Version:varies with device
Minimum software requirements:varies with device

This review of Google Earth 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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Teen, 16 years old Written byBlueDragonMaster98 May 30, 2010

Fun and Educational

See the Earth, moon, and mars with amazing detail considering the moon hasn't been visited in many decades and mars remains lifeless as it has for many years (believe what you will about its origins). It's easy to use and it tells you information from history to restaurants and tourist sites on every part of the world. While the cities can be dull even in 3d (because most of them are just white), there are a number of places to see just for the fun of it, such as the icy western coast of Russia and the surrounding islands, or the craters on Mars and the Moon.
What other families should know
Educational value
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 11 years old November 18, 2010

GREAT APP

It's fun!
What other families should know
Educational value
Kid, 11 years old April 13, 2011

Brilliant!

Google Earth, let me say, is a shining example of how fun education can be. Whether just gazing at your house from the sky or exploring the icy peaks of the French Alps, you are guaranteed to spend countless hours exploring different places. As well as this, there is an endless plethora of quality user-generated content; for example, you can take pictures of certain places and assign them to the places. It gives you a fulfilling sense of contributing to something huge... and best of all, open-source. The world of open-source software is a shining role-model for children, as when they are older they may code an app that will make millions smile. Finally, the desktop software includes even more better features, including 3D buildings, maps, Street View, the capability to explore the Moon, Mars, and Sky, and even a relatively easy-to-use flight simulator! All at the price of free.
What other families should know
Educational value

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