EDUCATION: Use of screens impacting handwriting ability

14 August 2016
Reading time2 mins

The reliance of touch screens and keyboards means many children do not know how to hold a pencil correctly, according to occupational therapist Katrina Davies.

Ms Davies told ABC News that children are lacking the strength in their hands to hold a pencil using the ‘dynamic tripod’ or ‘pencil grip’ method: “With the pencil grip there should be a circle between your index finger and your thumb to allow free movement of your fingers when writing.

"Australian children are coming to school with a palmar grasp, which means the pencil’s touching the palms of their hands and they're not using their fingers,” she added.

In the recent NAPLAN tests, there was a big drop in writing scores nationwide for Years 7 and 9 and, according to ABC News, many teachers said the fact that it was a handwritten test was making children even more anxious.

Ms Davies said: “The current curriculum requires the students to [hand] write sentences and these children can't control the pencil. The push for technology in schools is a big counteraction and contradiction of where the children are at; teachers are having to go back to the foundational skills first.”

She added that touch screens have changed the way we use our hands, with most people swiping with their middle finger. “The muscles in our hand aren't designed for that, as the index finger has the most muscle supply and is the one with the most accuracy. We're changing the way we're doing things and that changes the brain map and the amount of brain that's going to the index finger.”

For a different take on the reliance of technology and how it is impacting children’s handwriting, read our article Should children still learn to write?

Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City
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