Due to an exaggerated use of smartphones, tablets, and other screens, children are increasingly struggling to hold a pencil and missing crucial skills. According to Sally Payne, the head pediatric occupational therapist at Heart of England Foundation, “Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago.” Still, a good control of the fine muscles in your fingers is necessary to be able to grip a pencil and children need a lot of opportunities to develop this kind of basic ability.

One problem is that the nature of play itself has dramatically changed. Nowadays, it’s easier for parents to provide electronic devices to their kids, than to incite them to more “physical” play like building blocks, moving toys, or cutting and sticking activities. This is why young kids are lacking some fundamental capacities they need and are less and less able to correctly grip and hold a pencil. The bad consequence is that a growing number of children may be too late in training essential handwriting capacities.

“Whilst 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,” says Karin Bishop, an assistant director at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.

  CH463062 Boy writing with his sister, 1875 (oil on canvas) by Anker, Albert (1831-1910

Boy writing, with sister by Albert Anker (Wikimedia Commons)