Doctors and teachers are saying that children who spend a lot of time on tablets are having trouble holding pencils. They are also having trouble doing other small jobs with their hands.
As children grow, they learn lots of things they can do with their bodies. These body skills are called motor skills because they are about moving. When people talk about moving, they use the word “gross” to mean “big”, and the word “fine” to mean “small”. Big movements like walking, skipping, and jumping are called “gross motor skills”. Smaller movements, like grabbing things, using scissors, or undoing buttons are called “fine motor skills”.
Doctors say that children used to get lots of practice with fine motor skills just by playing. They would pick up blocks and sticks, play with clay or Lego, draw pictures, and cut things out. Now many younger kids are spending more time on tablets and phones. Instead of building up their finger muscles by playing, they are spending a lot of time swiping on screens.
Teachers say that now many more kids don’t know how to hold a pencil or use scissors when they first start school. This means that the teachers need to spend time teaching them how. Schools are spending more and more money trying to get special help for kids who have trouble with their fine motor skills. Teachers also worry that if kids have trouble holding pencils, it will make it harder for them to learn to write.
Tablets and phones are sometimes called “mobile devices”. A group of scientists have done research to find out how much young kids used mobile devices. They learned that more than half of the children who were 2 years old used a mobile device every day.