Dear Otto: Should Lefties Use Right Hands for Mousing Around

tech questions

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Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Sandy:

Q: I am a Computer Teacher for Early Education (3 & 4 year old) and also Elementary students.  My question to you is if a child is left handed, should you teach them to use their mouse with their left hand?

A: That’s a great question. I’ve seen lots of different answers, but there’s only one that makes sense to me: Allow students to use the hand they’re most comfortable with. If they want to use the left, I set the mouse up so it works for them. Often, it’s a shared station, so I help the student get used to reversing the mouse buttons themselves. If that’s enough to convince them to use the right hand, so be it, but many times, they are eager to take the few extra seconds to visit the control panel and set the mouse up to suit their needs.

By allowing students to choose, I first don’t let my prejudices influence how they learn. I don’t want them to go one way because I told them to. I want them to make up their minds and act  in their own best interests. This also prevents me from interfering with the parenting they receive at home. Moms and dads may have strong opinions on this subject and nudge their children accordingly. I don’t want to interfere with that when experience tells me it doesn’t make any difference.

What do you do with your lefties?

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Categories: Ask Otto, mouse skills | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Dear Otto: Should Lefties Use Right Hands for Mousing Around

  1. I’m a leftie but use my mouse with my right mainly because that is where my husband has it! I did have an optical one which was great for anyone!

    • I think adapting for convenience is a great solution. I bet it’s easier for you as a leftie to accommodate your husband’s rightie-ness than vice versa (for a lot of reasons we won’t go into) so it makes sense.

      Thanks for sharing. I now have more insight into my efriend, Julia!

  2. Karen

    Hi there, as a left handed teacher of seven year olds, I find that the kids will tend to use their right hand, as that is where the mouse is. I move the mouse to my left hand but do not change the buttons. I wouldn’t recommend changing the buttons as you won’t be able to do this all the time (think of using computers in public places like libraries). It is easy enough to use your dominant hand and just get used to clicking the way the mouse is set up for righties. One more thing – lefties can not use ergonimic right handed mice. If you have a left handed child, make sure that you are using a simple mouse.

  3. I received this comment from a reader. Good personal experience:

    Subject: Lefties?

    Interesting idea here. I am a right hander to type but after I suffered RSI in my right wrist decided to spread the load and use my left hand for the mouse. It has made the world of difference in allowing me to write and use a computer at the one time. I teach computers so when I help the kids I use the right hand mouse left handed and I have just adapted to using the buttons the other way around. Best thing I ever did. I’d encourage you to either try it, or just allow students to use the hand they prefer.

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