Sunday 20 January 2019

Children 'are struggling to hold pens' due to excessive iPad use

Children are increasingly using tablets from a very young age. Stock Image
Children are increasingly using tablets from a very young age. Stock Image

Sarak Knapton

Children are struggling to use pens and pencils because the excessive use of touchscreen phones and iPads is damaging their dexterity, specialists have claimed.

Paediatric doctors, handwriting experts and orthopaedic therapists are warning that although youngsters can swipe a screen, they no longer have the hand strength and agility to learn to write correctly when they start school.

Increasingly the use of digital screens is replacing skills such as drawing, painting and cutting out which boost fine motor skills and co-ordination.

"Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not being able to hold it because they don't have the fundamental movement skills," said Sally Payne, the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust.

"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 opportunity to develop those skills."

A recent study found 58pc of under-twos had used a tablet or mobile phone and many nurseries have installed interactive 'smartboards', digital cameras and touchscreen computers to try to expose children to gadgets at an early age.

However, the National Handwriting Association (NHA) in the UK has warned excessive use of technology is impeding writing skills.

Without activities such as manipulating playdough, holding scissors and scribbling with pencils and crayons, muscles in the shoulder, elbow and wrist needed for writing do not develop.

Teachers have reported some children do not even know how to receive a pencil or paintbrush and the problem has become worse in the past decade.

Karin Bishop, of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, said: "Whilst there are many positive aspects to technology, there is growing evidence on the impact of more sedentary lifestyles and increasing virtual social interaction." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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