Technology can be a wonderful thing. It’s brought us closer together, allowed us to work much quicker and smarter and fostered a new age of enlightenment.
But becoming so accustomed to technology does have its drawbacks. It can make us reliant and forget key skills we used to rely on.
Remember how you used to be able to recite all your friends’ phone numbers? How many numbers can you remember now? We all store our loved ones’ details in our contacts list, which has quite frankly made us lose the ability to retain numbers. And the worry is, it could be a little bit like that with maps.
Is map reading a lost art?
It’s likely that at one time or another we’ve all used an app on our phones, laptops or PCs to find a location or plot a route, whether that be for a driving holiday or to navigate a quicker route to work. But is that having an affect on our map reading skills? Research would actually suggest not.
A study of 2,000 adults found that day-to-day use of mapping apps has made many young people more confident when it comes to traditional paper maps. Over half of those asked could confidently use a compass, up from 46%. And 70% of Gen Z (those born between 1997 – 2012) can read a ‘real’ map. (when necessary).
This uptick in research has lighten the hearts of the people at OS Maps. Ordnance Survey’s MD for Leisure, Nick Giles said:
“It’s very reassuring to see that so many young people can confidently use a map. “Map reading has long been thought of as a key life skill, but one which was also thought to be dying out.”
“It’s why we run National Map Reading Week. We want to encourage people to better understand how good map skills, both paper and digital, can unlock and inspire people to safely discover new places and adventures.”
Explore your map reading skills
Not only can reading a map accurately save your life but can open up a whole new world of possibilities and adventures.
On top of personal use, being able to read and follow directions on a map is an essential skill for rescuers, emergency services, armed forces and many others.
Mike Park, SEO of Mountain Rescue England & Wales, said: “With the recent restrictions to foreign travel huge number of people have taken to the hills for recreation, many for the first time and without the necessary navigation skills. As a result we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of callouts to people who were simply lost or poorly equipped for the conditions they found themselves in.
CSSC think it's always great if you can gain these life skills early on. Many get their first taste of orienteering at Scouts, Guides or young people’s adventure clubs and summer camps. But we also know that it’s always the right time to gain new skills, especially those that can unlock such fun and possibility.
Get more from your summer, get outside with OS
Throughout Map Reading Week, OS is promoting videos full of tips to help you brush up on your map reading skills and challenging enthusiasts to put themselves to the test with an online quiz.
You can explore with OS's free map reading guides. Packed full of simple and easy to follow steps for kids, beginners or advanced map readers and orienteerers.
OS has also teamed up with Penguin to publish The Ordnance Survey Kids Adventure Book, a new book full to the brim with challenges and map reading tips for young people to make the most of the outdoors while avoiding getting into difficulty.
If you want to find out more about OS Maps and map reading visit National Map Reading Week, or follow the #NationalMapReadingWeek hashtag on social media.
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