With the rise of pint-sized technology use, researchers say kids can’t hold pencils anymore. Yep, that’s right. Scientists are now starting to think that children’s early fine motor development in the age of the iPad deserves some serious attention. If your kiddo spends more time swiping and clicking than coloring and gripping, here’s what researchers fear may happen.

Some pediatric doctors are now cautioning parents about the growing trend towards using technology instead of traditional fine motor play. The less time a young child spends gripping pencils, playing with blocks, using scissors and engaging in other similar types of fine motor activities, the less likely it is that they’ll be adequately prepared to hold a pencil or a pen when they start kindergarten.

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Head pediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust, Sally Payne, told The Guardian, “Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago.” Payne went on to add, “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.”

Trading early fine motor play experiences for virtual worlds and screen-filled activities takes away from the development of pre-writing skills. This leaves out kiddos behind where they should be (in terms of writing, or at the very least holding a pencil) when they start grade school.

So what can you do to prevent this problem? Make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for your child to write, draw, paint, sculpt, play with blocks, lace and do any other kind of fine motor activity you can think up!

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Do you agree with the idea that technology use is to blame for children struggling with fine motor skills? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

—Erica Loop

 

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