In the last year or two I've seen an amazing number of people uisng automotive GPS's. Business associates, folks with rental cars w/ GPS's onboard, mothers of Scouts in my son's troop.

Take the mother of the Scout for example. I've bet money that she wouldn't have a clue how to use a map & compass, but during a trip a few weeks ago, not only was she using her auto-style GPS to follow the route, but she was also using it to find gas stations and places to eat for the group.

Just to test this I just went outside with my 10 year old daughter who has never touched a GPS in her life, though I did recently explain how the GPS uses the satellites to find your location:

While outside on our driveway I handed her my Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx and asked her to find out how to get to Mville (a nearby good-sized city). She was able to figure out how to turn it on, though it took a while since the power button isn't the most prominent. The "Aquiring Satellites" display confused her a bit, but she correctly figured she should wait until that display disappeared. She correctly guessed that she should use the Find button. She correctly guessed to select Cities and then press the Enter button. She had to scroll down a ways until she found Mville, but she eventually found it and pressed Enter again to select it. She stumbled a bit on selecting the Goto option, though she eventually found it and selected it by pressing the Enter key. And finally she understood the next two options "Follow Road" or "Off Road", but wasn't sure which one she should pick. She finally picked "Follow Road" saying she could always walk along-side the roads anyway.

So, even a 5th grader with no prior exerience can find their way using what might be considered the most advanced mapping GPS available today.