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Bigger icons make surfing easier for old people

Large print websites coming to a rest home near you shortly
Large print websites coming to a rest home near you shortly

Silver surfers may be getting a tough deal from current operating systems, according to a new study by the University of Reading.

Researchers there found that older people can make better use of computers if icons, links and menu headings automatically grow bigger as the cursor moves towards them.

I remember when it was all green pixels around here

The study showed that 'expanding targets' that grow to twice their original size and provide a much larger area to click on, could cut mouse mistakes by half and reduce 'by 13 per cent' the time older people take to select an icon or option.

Dr Faustina Hwang, who led the research as part of the SPARC (Strategic Promotion of Ageing Research Capacity) initiative says, "Expanding targets could lead to substantial benefits because older people would feel more confident in their ability to control a mouse and cursor. A computer can be a real lifeline for an older person, particularly if they're living alone."

Frankly, anything that makes selecting fiddly menus and pin-point mouse-overs easier for wrinklies will be welcomed by younger users too, especially when we're a bit shaky in the morning after too many shandies the night before. Excuse any typos.