Experts are saying youngsters’ addiction to tech has left them utterly hopeless when faced with more traditional methods of communication.
It turns out that too much time in front of touchscreen devices has left many of today’s kids unable to perform the simple act of writing with a pencil.
“Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,” Sally Payne, the head pediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust, told The Guardian.
“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers.”
One parent was even contacted by her child’s school because – in her words – “he was gripping his pencil like cavemen held sticks.”
Back in the good ol’ days, children might have strengthened their finger muscles by drawing, using building blocks, cutting and pasting, or playing with playdoh. Now, infants as young as one are too busy swiping, touching, and pinching smartphones and tablets, which, apparently, is doing very little for their finger strength.
It's hardly news to anyone that kids today are extremely digitally savvy – so digitally savvy, in fact, that 42 percent of under-eights in the US own their own tablet, and a report published last year revealed they spend an average of 48 minutes a day glued to a touchscreen device.
In the UK, things aren’t that much better. Toddlers spend an average of 44 minutes a day in front of a smartphone or tablet device.
“It is undeniable that technology has changed the world where our children are growing up,” assistant director at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, Karin Bishop, told The Guardian.
“Whilst there are many positive aspects to the use of technology, there is growing evidence on the impact of more sedentary lifestyles and increasing virtual social interaction, as children spend more time indoors online and less time physically participating in active occupations.”
Technology isn’t all bad but the lesson here seems to be that it doesn’t hurt to pick up a pack of coloring pencils once in a while. Having said that, until there is a study examining the effect of touchscreen use on handwriting ability, we cannot determine if and at what rates this increase in hand weakness is occurring.
[H/T: The Guardian]