With our increasing dependence on smartphones and tablets, the practise of writing with a pen or pencil has become a bit scarce. If you are asked to scribble something, chances are you may find it difficult in the beginning before you find your natural streak after a few lines.
Doctors have warned that children, who have just begun school, are having trouble holding a pencil properly because of excess use of technology, The Guardian reported.
The report was based on a study conducted by the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust which found that overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets is preventing children’s finger muscles from developing so they can hold a pencil correctly.
“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 Trust, as quoted by The Guardian newspaper.
Holding the excess use of technology responsible for this development, she said: “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.”
“It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil,” she noted.
The Guardian reported the case of a six-year-old boy Patrick who has been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist for six months to help him develop the necessary strength in his index finger to hold a pencil. His mother Laura told the British Daily, that he had been holding his pencil “like cavemen held sticks.”
A paper from 2016, published in the Journal of Hand Therapy, found that young men and women have significantly weaker handgrips than what they had in 1985.
The study collected data from 237 male and female volunteers aged 20-34. They had to squeeze a hand dynamometer, which is like a joystick, and the strength of their grip was then measured in pounds.