The University of Warwick’s Cybernetic Culture Research center carried out research in nine cities around the world and found that the thumbs of people under the age of 25 have taken over as the hand’s most dexterous digit.
The study looked particularly at digits used to operate gadgets such as mobile phones, wireless messaging units and game-playing devices. The preference for the thumb is seen in those who have grown up with hand-held devices on which the thumbs are used for keying-in text messages and e-mails.
“The relationship between technology and the users of technology is mutual. We are changing each other,” said Sadie Plant of The University of Warwick. “Discovering that the younger generation has taken to using thumbs in a completely different way and are instinctively using thumbs where the rest of us are using our index fingers is particularly interesting.”
In her research, Plant noticed that while those less used to mobile phones used one or several fingers to access the keypad, younger people used both thumbs ambidextrously, barely looking at the keys as they made rapid entries.
While more research needs to be done, studies like this one could possible affect the way ergonomics is used in the design of hand tools and other hand held devices.