Kids as young as 5 can learn to use computer mouse

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new study has revealed that children as young as 5 years old can learn how to use a computer mouse.

While age is an important component in determining how well a child controls a mouse, the study also found that how frequently a child practices may be even more important.

“Learning how to use a computer has become as important as writing and reading in the classroom,” said Alison Lane, an assistant professor of occupational therapy at Ohio State University.

“Since the frequency of computer mouse use is as important as age, it might be beneficial to introduce children to the computer at a young age so that they can slowly develop skills over years of practice,” Lane said.

Lane conducted the study with Jenny Ziviani of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

The study examined the computer-mouse skills of 221 Australian children between the ages of 5 and 10 years.

The tests used to measure the children’s mouse control consisted of subtests assessing point and click, dragging, and pursuit tracking movements with the mouse.

One of the subtests, called Chipmunk Fun, required the children to click on as many chipmunk faces as they could within a 20-second time period.

While the children’s approach to the game was age-dependent, and the speed and accuracy with which they played the game was also strongly dependent on their age, the study discovered that the frequency of computer mouse use was also vital to determining their skill level.

Lane and colleagues found that the largest increases in the children’s computer-mouse accuracy and speed was observed between ages 6 and 7 and between ages 8 and 9. Between the ages of 9 and 10, performance appeared to plateau.

Although older children were faster and more accurate, they were not as smooth with their mouse motions as younger children.

Lane suggests that this may be due to the competitive nature of the older children, who were willing to sacrifice fluidity for speed.

The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Computers and Education. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

will not be displayed