With the rise of the technology, reports carried out by senior paediatric doctors in a recent study revealed that the children are increasingly finding it hard to hold pens and pencils.
The reports say that due to overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets, a child’s finger muscle is not developing sufficiently.
“Children are not coming to school with the hand strength and dexterity they had ten years ago,” said Sally Payne, the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust to The Guardian. “Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not be able to hold it because they do not have the fundamental movement skills,” he added.
“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers; Children need lots of opportunities to develop those skills.”
Payne said the nature of play had changed from what the previous generations had. “It is 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. Because of this, they are not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”
Mellissa Prunty, the vice-chair of the National Handwriting Association who runs a research clinic at Brunel University, London investigating critical skills in childhood, including handwriting, said, “One problem is that handwriting is very individual in how it develops in each child.”
Prunty is a paediatric occupational therapist who specialises in handwriting difficulties in children. She is concerned that with the increasing numbers of children developing late handwriting is because of an overuse of technology.
“Without research, the risk is that we make too many assumptions about why a child is not able to write at the expected age and don’t intervene when there is a technology-related cause,” she said.
Karin Bishop, an assistant director at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, told The Guardian that, “It is undeniable that technology has changed the world where our children are growing up,” she said. “While 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.”
This was a severe problem when the children spent their most time outside the school using phones and tablets. In India, this issue is yet to get highlighted.