It’s no secret that many of us are addicted to our smartphones and dependent on our mobile devices to access information and services. Being addicted to your Facebook feed or your favorite mobile game are common problems, and ones that you can probably imagine leading you astray. But are we also too dependent on some of the more useful features of our phones? As Brad Plumer reports for Vox, experts think that you’re probably too reliant on your smartphone’s GPS. Here are five reasons why you should work on becoming a little less dependent on your favorite navigation app.
1. Relying on GPS can ruin your navigational abilities
Satellite expert Roger McKinlay tells Vox that “we’ve become overdependent” on GPS and other satellite navigation devices. McKinlay recently wrote that apps and devices that automatically tell you where to go can erode your natural navigation skills. He argues that “a sense of direction, a sense of scale and a map” are still essential to getting around in the world, and “knowledge of where you want to go also helps.” But as smartphone-owning adults rely on their smartphones to get around unfamiliar territory, they are often left even more helpless when they have to find their own way thanks to a dead smartphone battery or the failure of a navigation app.
McKinlay warns, “our natural navigation abilities will deteriorate as we rely ever more on smart devices.” Navigation is a use-it-or-lose-it skill, and researchers have shown that drivers who follow satellite navigation instructions find it more difficult to figure out where they have been than those who use maps. Drivers who follow navigation directions also fail to notice when they’ve been directed past the same point twice, and rescue teams routinely search for people with drained smartphone batteries, no sense of direction, and no paper maps. When you stop trying to figure out routes for yourself, your ability to orient yourself and figure out how different streets and routes fit together will suffer.