Geocaching

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Real-world treasure hunts are best for teens or as a family.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Site activities encourage users to take an interest in their surroundings and use critical thinking skills to complete missions.

Violence

Aside from a few posts on accidental injuries (and a death) that occurred when geocaching, violent acts don't get many message board mentions.

Sex

Although words like "sex" and "nude" appear in forum posts, most references involve users commenting on inappropriate material found in geocache containers.

Language

Filters help prevent swears from showing up on the site forums, and most conversations are friendly.

Consumerism

Basic membership is free. A premium subscription that costs $2.50 a month gives users extra options, such as downloading multiple geocaches at once. The site also promotes branding opportunities and has an online store that sells adventure gear and other items.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some users report having found pipes and other paraphernalia near cache locations, but forum talk doesn't center on drinking or drug use.

Privacy & safety

GPS technology can raise some identification issues. However, to find out your map coordinates, you can opt to have the system find and set your location but only remember it for one day.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that geocaching can be a fun activity, but there's no guarantee all hidden items will be kid-friendly. Some may contain inappropriate language, images, or other fare. Parents may also have concerns about geocaching's social networking aspect. It gives kids a chance to share their treasure hunting experience and get tips from other users; however, they can also email strangers through the site or add them as friends.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • discussion
  • following directions

Social Studies

  • exploration
  • geography

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • analyzing evidence
  • logic

Communication

  • asking questions
  • conveying messages effectively

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Kids will enjoy the payoff of finding physical objects if they master GPS and map use; the chance to share the treasure hunt experience with others should also pique their curiosity.

Learning Approach

The experience can help kids practice and learn skills like reading comprehension, measuring distances, and logic. But the lessons aren't directly reinforced; adults will need to tie the activities into geography, math, and other subjects.

Support

On the site, kids can find out how to use GPS technology and log recent hunts. Parents and teachers can get usage ideas on a forum. But the system counts on other users providing individual feedback via the site's message boards.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • discussion
  • following directions

Social Studies

  • exploration
  • geography

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • analyzing evidence
  • logic

Communication

  • asking questions
  • conveying messages effectively

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn about geography and problem solving by using map coordinates to locate items. They can also brush up on tech skills, like using a GPS. Site forums provide communication practice and collaboration experience. Interpreting latitude and longitude can also help kids grasp math principles like measurement and graphing. Kids could potentially relate geocaching skills to both the classroom and real world, but the site doesn't really have the resources to help them do it. Adding content to explain what skills kids are using would help transform geocaching from a just-for-fun activity to an effective, enjoyable learning experience.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

Kids say

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What's it about?

In 2000, after civilian GPS accuracy improved, three friends who worked at a dot-com startup launched Geocaching.com. GEOCACHING is a hybrid of GEO, for geography, and caching, a term used to describe hiding hiking or camping provisions. Users hide secret trinkets and find items by entering an address, zip code, latitude and longitude, or other qualification, frequently employing a GPS device or smartphone with GPS to determine the object's hiding place. Users also discuss their geocaching experiences on active site forums.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Geocaching hunts range from simple but exciting challenges to complex problem-solving adventures. Parents may want to remain heavily involved in the chase, instead of letting kids roam on their own; with a little help, the activity can be a good chance to reinforce valuable geography, map reading, and other skills and get your kids excited about exploring the world around them. After entering coordinates into a computer, GPS device, or phone, kids can track down hidden geocache packages, which are ranked by difficulty level and terrain rating. Many just contain a logbook or trinkets; but the contents really aren't the important part. With geocaching, getting there is more than half the fun -- and, as an added bonus, because users are encouraged to replace any items they remove, kids will get a bonus lesson in good citizenship.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about friending users you don't know. Should you accept all friend requests you get, even if you don't know the person?

  • What problems could arise from contacting total strangers on the site and finding something they've hidden in the real world? If they've posted the location on the site, does that mean it's safe?

  • You may find information about dozens of items in your area. How much time should you spend checking things out on a site like Geocaching? How much time should you spend online each day, in general?

Website details

Genre:Social Networking
Price:Free-$2.50/month
Pricing structure:Free, Paid

This review of Geocaching was written by

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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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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent Written byReedB June 24, 2014
 
LEARNING

Best of both worlds with Parent Supervision

We have been a Geocaching family since 2010. We search on-line for hides near places we're going and take the coordinates of hidden containers with us. We've traveled locally, around the country and in Canada while Geocaching. The social side is wonderful too. Our son knows other children from events we go to every year. We have friends we've met through Geocaching in the USA and Canada. We started when our son was only three. He has learned geography, GPS use, map reading, hiking, introducing himself to someone, staying safe in the woods, fair trading for SWAG (Stuff We All Get, larger containers have items for taking in return for leaving something of equal or greater value), playing outdoors, wildlife, plants and so much more. He can find a geocache faster than most adults. Playing builds confidence and encourages a family to be outside together.

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