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Rockd

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Rockd App Poster Image
Geologists go social in high-level interactive reference.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the geological features of their hometown, or any location in the world. They can look up historical maps to see how landmasses have changed over millions of years. Fossil and mineral data tells kids what's been found in any location they choose. And a social element lets kids share and learn with others.

Ease of Play

Though there is a basic tutorial, learning the app's features can be a clunky process. Kids also need a good understanding of geology to make sense of the information the app provides.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rockd combines academic sources and a social element with a geolocation tracker to provide users with detailed geological information. The app is developed and maintained by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded partly by the National Science Foundation. Rockd was not made specifically for kids, and it's not very accessible for people who don't have some foundational knowledge of geology. Kids can use the app to explore Rockd's collection of geologic maps and geology data from any location in the world without providing any personal information. However, to fully use all the app's features, kids need to sign in with a user name, password, and email address; enable location services; and allow access to their device's camera and camera roll. The developer's privacy policy states they do not share this data with any third parties, that location data and photos are shared with the public only if you choose to make them public (e.g., by posting on the app's social media feed), and that you can edit or delete your data at any time. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Sign in to ROCKD with a unique username and password, through your Facebook or Google account. Kids can also skip the login to forgo access the social media features. Rockd uses your location to provide geological information about where you are including stratigraphy, physiographic region, lithologies, historical geological views, presence of fossils and minerals, and more. Kids can also look up this information about any location in the world. In the activity feed, kids read posts from other users who share photos and geological features from locations they've visited. If kids sign in, they can also share their own data collections.

Is it any good?

A combination of crowd-sourced and academic data provides a rich treasure trove for kids interested in and knowledgeable about geology. Rockd does a great job of harnessing much of what modern technology can offer. There are databases of sophisticated satellite images, current and historical geological maps, and fossil and mineral records. A compass function allows kids to act as researchers and use their device to record coordinates and scientific measurements "in the field." And the social media platform is a space for sharing what you've found with others, discovering new places, and contributing to an ever-growing database of geological data. However, Rockd isn't a toy. For kids to use all these features and understand what they all mean, they'll need a significant amount of knowledge and familiarity with, as well as interest in, geology and geological terminology. If your kid fits the bill, they will likely find Rockd an amazing tool that allows them to join a community of professional scientists and high-level amateurs.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the wealth of geological information included in Rockd. What do all those terms mean? Help your kids look up words or concepts they don't understand.

  • Go out together and use the app to gather data and learn more about the land underneath your feet. What are some different kinds of rocks? What are the most types in your area?

  • If kids want to join the social media platform, talk about how to share safely. What kinds of photos are okay to share? Are you okay with your kid sharing geolocation data?

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