The effect of standing desks on manual control in children and young adults

Publication authors

Britten L, Shire KA, Coats RO, Astill SL


The aim of the present study was to establish if and how the additional postural constraint of standing affects accuracy and precision of goal directed naturalistic actions. Forty participants, comprising 20 young adults aged 20–23 years and 20 children aged 9–10 years completed 3 manual dexterity tasks on a tablet laptop with a handheld stylus during two separate conditions (1) while standing and (2) while seated. The order of conditions was counterbalanced across both groups of participants. The tasks were (1) a tracking task, where the stylus tracked a dot in a figure of 8 at 3 speeds, (2) an aiming task where the stylus moved from dot to dot with individual movements creating the outline of a pentagram and (3) a tracing task, where participants had to move the stylus along a static pathway or maze. Root mean squared error (RMSE), movement time and path accuracy, respectively, were used to quantify the effect that postural condition had on manual control. Overall adults were quicker and more accurate than children when performing all 3 tasks, and where the task speed was manipulated accuracy was better at slower speeds for all participants. Surprisingly, children performed these tasks more quickly and more accurately when standing compared to when sitting. In conclusion, standing at a desk while performing goal directed tasks did not detrimentally affect children’s manual control, and moreover offered a benefit.


  • Children;
  • Manual dexterity;
  • Postural control;
  • Standing desks