• Kids struggling to learn basic skills because of digital devices

    By: Mearl Purvis


    A new study claims children may no longer be learning some basic skills in early development because of technology.

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    The study was done in the United Kingdom. Researchers found that kids spend so much time "swiping" at a young age, that they're actually entering school with weaker hand muscles and may even struggle to hold a pencil.

    “Every year we have kids come here who can’t hold a pencil. Every year we must teach pencil grip fine motor skills,” Leslie Roller, an elementary school teacher for 13 years in Osecola, Arkansas, told FOX13.

    “We have to do a lot of activities to build those finger muscles even,” she continued. “They just don’t have the muscle control we have to do a lot of activities just build up the muscle control."

    Another study from 2012 tied writing to the ability to read.

    Researchers studied children ages 0 months to 4 years old as they attempted to write. The kids were then shows images of the letters and shapes.

    Through MRI, scientists discovered that handwriting was most effective for waking up the brain and telling it to read.

    FOX13’s Mearl Purvis asked pediatrician Dr. Joi Wilson-Townsend about the UK-based study on the impact of technology and children overusing electronic devices.

    "My first reaction is basically to take them away and ask where the books are…where are the toys and things that used to be interactive as children,” Dr. Wilson-Townsend said.

    She told FOX13 there are other health consequences in addition to underdevelopment of finger muscles.

    “When kids are learning from 12 months old to play on telephones and tablets, and they’re not being the active individuals they should be, it becomes inactivity,” Dr. Wilson-Townsend explained. In adults, it becomes diabetes. In adults, it becomes hypertension and high cholesterol.”

    Parents are urged to limit their screen time to 20-30 minutes per day in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten.

    Teachers we spoke with said to find other learning activities to fill the void and promote development of hand and body muscles.

    It’s an easy way to occupy their child, and they don’t think about what their child is missing out on,” Roller said. “They are missing social skills; just talking to somebody else at the table talking to their friends, going out playing, climbing a tree, building with Legos – instead of having a tablet in front of them all the time."

    For more information about the importance of handwriting and case studies on the subject, visit http://www.nha-handwriting.org.uk/

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