Children finding it hard to hold pencils due to screen time

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Remember in school how we all had to learn to hold a pencil correctly? Now our kids are having more trouble than we ever had because they spend so much time using technology.

The use of touchscreen devices like phones and tablets is preventing kids' finger muscles from developing properly so they can hold a pencil correctly.

"Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago," Sally Payne, head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust, told The Guardian. "Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not able to hold it because they don't have the fundamental movement skills.

"To be able to grip and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills."

According to Ms Payne the way children play has changed.

"It's easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes," she said.

"Because of this, they're not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil."

Mellissa Prunty, a paediatric occupational therapist who specialises in handwriting difficulties in children, told The Guardian she worries that more kids will develop handwriting late because of technology.

"One problem is that handwriting is very individual in how it develops in each child," she said. "Without research, the risk is that we make too many assumptions about why a child isn't able to write at the expected age and don't intervene when there is a technology-related cause."

Different schools teach handwriting differently, and some include tablets along with pencils in their methods. This can be a problem, says Ms Prunty, when children are also spending a lot of time on devices outside of school.