I don’t know about you, but I have a terrible sense of direction. I’m easily lost unless I stick to my usual routes and don’t know north from south to save my life. If research is “me-search,” as they say, then my poor sense of direction must be part of the reason I became interested in studying spatial navigation abilities during my doctoral program in psychology.

People use spatial navigation daily to figure out where they are in their environment and where they need to go next. The strategies people use to traverse unfamiliar places – whether they rely on salient landmarks or cardinal directions – vary between individuals as well as between men and women. I am a science communication fellow at The Conversation U.S. this summer, and in a story published today, I discuss how freedom to roam during childhood may affect how well and how confidently people navigate as adults.

Also today:

Vanessa Vieites

Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellow

Boys are often allowed to stray farther from home without adult supervision than girls are. Imgorthand/E+ Collection via Getty Images

Kids set free to roam on their own feel more confident navigating in adulthood

Vanessa Vieites, Rutgers University

Although some parents may be reluctant to let their children explore their surroundings alone, allowing kids to wander can help build their sense of direction.

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