A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What 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.
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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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- 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
- Genre: Social Networking
- Price: Free-$2.50/month
- Pricing structure: Free, Paid