Smartphones and the Uncertain Future of 'Spatial Thinking'
Like any technology, digital maps are changing our brains as well as our behavior.
Experts who study the issue are concerned that spatial thinking might be the next casualty of technological progress. "Basically, people don't really learn their environments". The worry is we may become, as a society, what the Japanese call hōkō onchi—deaf to direction.
Studies conducted over the last decade have shown that GPS navigation has a generally damaging effect on the user's ability to remember an environment and reconstruct a route. Asked to recall various aspects of their surroundings, participants using GPS navigation performed 20 percent worse than their paper-map peers.