FRIDAY, Feb. 18, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Children as young as 5 can learn how to manipulate a computer mouse, according to a study that finds practice is more important than age in mastering the device.
Researchers tested the computer mouse skills of 221 children aged 5 to 10 years. The largest increases in the children's computer mouse accuracy and speed occurred between ages 6 and 7 and ages 8 and 9. Performance appears to plateau between ages 9 and 10.
While older children were faster and more accurate, younger children had smoother mouse motions. This is likely because older children are more willing to sacrifice fluidity for speed, explained study author Alison Lane, an assistant professor of occupational therapy at Ohio State University.
There were no significant differences between girls and boys in terms of speed and accuracy, but girls were slightly more skilled at smooth mouse control.
Overall, the findings suggest that children need to practice at least once a week with a computer mouse to achieve the best gains in terms of accuracy, speed and minimization of errors, Lane said.
"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," she said in a university news release.
The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Computers & Education.
The Nemours Foundation warns parents that children can suffer computer-related repetitive stress injuries.