70% of Gen Z adults claim they can confidently read a map when needed

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A study of 2,000 adults found that day-to-day use of mapping apps on their phone has made many young people more confident when it comes to traditional paper maps.

And in a surprise result, half (50 per cent) could also confidently use a compass – more than the 46 per cent of 45-54 year-olds who said the same.

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Three in 10 45-54 year olds said they ‘never’ use a physical map, this drops to just 16 per cent of Gen Z

More than a quarter of those in the younger age bracket (27 per cent) use a paper map a few times a month, compared to just four per cent of 54-65 year olds.

National map reading week

As part of National Map Reading Week (5-11 July), the study, commissioned by Ordnance Survey, found six in 10 young adults also claimed to have been in a situation where they needed to use a paper map, to explore new or local areas (40 per cent) or plan a route (38 per cent).

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.

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“It has long been thought of as a key life skill, but one which was also dying out.

“However, many young people are now so used to reading maps on their smart phone, with the apps being a key part of day-to-day life, that they are able to confidently transfer these skills to the traditional paper map too.

“It’s something that may come in handy at any time because without a map, you may find yourself in a spot of bother, especially if your sense of direction isn’t up to scratch or your trusty phone runs out of battery.

“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.”

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To test the nation's map reading skills the mapping agency has created an online quiz

for participants to identify key pubs, footpaths and sights https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/guides/national-map-reading-week-2021-quiz/

Key life skill

The quiz was created after the study found 71 per cent of adults polled thought being able to confidently read a map was a key life skill.

But 18-24 year olds were more likely than any other age group to also consider themselves to have a good sense of direction.

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Nearly seven in 10 reckon they would be good at finding their way compared to just 56 per cent of those aged 45-54.

Young adults are also most likely to rely on a smartphone app to navigate their route (83 per cent), due to its simplicity (42 per cent) and that it is easier to carry (52 per cent).

Whereas 38 per cent of those aged 65 and over admitted to never even thinking about using a navigation app.

The study also revealed the symbols Brits would like to see featured on maps, with cashpoints, phone charging points and TV show locations among the top suggestions.

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A quarter of Gen Z respondents, polled via OnePoll, would also like to see 5G hotspots marked, while 27 per cent would like a pointer to top Instagram sites.

To help people brush up on their map reading skills ahead of staycations in Great Britain this summer, Ordnance Survey has set up a National Map Reading Week website  - https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/guides/map-reading-week/