Overuse of gadgets such as phones and tablets is causing finger muscles of children from properly developing, making it harder for them to hold everyday items such as pens and pencils, say doctors in the UK. According to the team researching the subject, children coming to school do not have the same hand strength and dexterity that they had about 10 years ago.
“Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not able to hold it because they do not have the fundamental movement skills. 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,” said Sally Payne, the head paediatric therapist at the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust in the UK.
Speaking to the Guardian, Payne said that it is often easier to give a child an iPad rather than to encourage them to do muscle building games such as block building, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Another researcher, Mellissa Prunty, who runs a research clinic in London said that an increasing number of children may be developing handwriting late because of their overuse of technology.
“One problem is that handwriting is very individual in how it develops in each child,” said Prunty. “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,” she added.