It Is Best to Point for Young Children: A Comparison of Children's Pointing and Dragging

Richard Joiner, D. Messer, P. Light, K. Littleton

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57 Citations (SciVal)


A mouse is the input device children principally use to control a computer in schools. However, somewhat surprisingly, there has been very little research investigating the appropriate mouse control strategies for children. In this paper we report two studies which compared children's performance with two basic mouse operations; pointing and dragging. In Study 1 we investigated 7-year-old children (n = 24) who were inexperienced with a computer mouse and found that they were quicker and more accurate with pointing compared to dragging. In Study 2 we examined the performance of children (n = 90) from three different age groups: young (5-6years), medium (8-9 years), and older (11-12 years). These children were more experienced with using a mouse. We found that older children were quicker and made fewer errors than younger children regardless of the mouse operation. We also found that younger children were slower and made more errors with dragging than with pointing. There were no differences in performance between pointing and dragging for the other two age groups. The implications of these findings for the design of interfaces for children are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-529
Number of pages17
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 1998


  • Children
  • Dragging
  • Mouse
  • Pointing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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