Children struggle to hold and use pencils due to excessive use of touchscreen phones and tablets such as iPads, experts claimed.

Overusing Devices Affects Development Of Muscles Needed For Holding Pencils

Overusing these devices damage children's dexterity, preventing the kids' finger muscles from developing in a way that would allow them to hold pencils correctly once they start school, according to healthcare experts.

"Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago," said Sally Payne, the head pediatric 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."

Parents find it easier to give iPads to children than giving them muscle-building play activities such as cutting and sticking, building blocks and pulling toys, Payne added.

Without these types of activities, shoulder, wrist, and elbow muscles needed for writing do not develop.

Some teachers even claimed that some children do not know how to receive a paintbrush or pencil.

Effects Of Children's Inability To Hold Pencils Correctly

Millfield Prep School headmistress Shirley Shayler warned that children who start school without experience in classic arts and the traditional craft activities are more likely to find handwriting more challenging.

Poor handwriting may have unwanted consequences on the children's academic performance and literacy, Shayler added. According to her, handwriting is a skill that lasts a lifetime and learning handwriting teaches more than just putting words on paper.

This is not the first time that experts have raised concerns about the effects of technology on children's ability to use pens and pencils.

In 2013, teachers in Australia warned that children will likely perform poorly in National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy tests because their reliance on technology and their inactive lifestyle means they do not have the arm strength and skills to write their answers quickly and concisely.

Other Effects Of Devices On Children

Use of iPads may also affect children's behavior. Researchers, for instance, found that giving these devices to pacify children who are throwing tantrums may impact their emotional development.

A 2017 study also found that speech delays in babies and toddlers may have something to do with their exposure to mobile devices.

"Infants with more handheld screen time have an increased risk of an expressive speech delay," researchers wrote in their study.

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