You’ve probably heard many GPS-related horror stories, through newspapers or perhaps even first hand tales, about drivers plunging into a ditch or off a cliff because they were following their trusty sat-navs. There have been increased activities amongst mountain rescues in the UK, where hi-tech hikers bring nothing more than their iPhone trekking up a hiking trail only to find themselves without battery and lost.
Another day, and another story. This time, Reuters reported a Canadian couple travelling in the Western US who took an off-road trail as per their GPS when they lost their way and the wife not found again for another 48 days. Husband is still missing.
To the “older” generation, these stories show the sheer idiocy of people who are over reliant on technology. But with the next generation growing up in cities who use the likes of Tom Tom and Google Map to navigate, it is only a natural extension to apply technology to their exploration of the world, without giving second thoughts to the the dangers like inaccurate satellite reading or running out of batteries. After all, such scenarios in a city are not usually life-threatening.
It is time for educators to consider the importance of teaching “offline media” like how to read OS maps and basic survival skills like starting a fire in a rough terrain. New technolgoy is great most of the time, but when battery runs out will the next generation know what to do to survive?