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Too much tech: Today's kids struggle to hold pencils, study says

Posted at 4:51 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 16:52:00-05

With children and parents embracing technology, a new study finds young kids entering school are having trouble holding a pencil.

Technology has definitely changed our world – I see that even with my children.  

The problem is kids today are being given touchscreen tablets and phones to play with, and all they need to do is either tap or swipe.

Now a study in England suggests kids are struggling to hold pencils properly because finger muscles are not being developed enough before they get to school. They simply don’t have the strength to grip a pencil and the control to write. 

Children used to play more with building blocks, pulling toys and spent a lot more time engaged in arts and crafts that involved paintbrushes, crayons and cutting and pasting. These types of activities would help build fine motor skills.  

I get that the nature of play has changed, but we’re now finding out that the overuse of electronic devices can lead to weak hands that affect handwriting.  

I’m going to share what works really well with my two young boys who also love to play on electronic devices.  So my prescriptions:

  1. Limit media time. I know it may be painful if they cry and carry on, but only allow 1 hour each day for kids between the ages of 2 and 5.
  2. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids under the age of 18 months to skip media unless it’s video-chatting. And they’d like children 18 to 24 months to only watch high-quality programming with their parents. 
  3. Be sure to provide young children with plenty of opportunities to develop hand muscles.  Give them playdough to squash, squeeze and roll, build towers with blocks, cut out fun shapes with safety scissors and let them color and draw. 
  4. Kids can easily become too attached to media which can lead to a sedentary unhealthy lifestyle.  Remember they need to be physically active for about an hour a day.