Effect of Screen Time on Motor Skills: The Smartphone Generation is not Ready to Write

posted by Preethi Chandrasekhar, June 29, 2020

Will the smartphone generation struggle with writing? With the pandemic stopping contact classes and multisensorial experiences, here's what teachers and developmental psychologists believe will happen. And here's what we parents can do about this.

Teachers are seeing more and more kindergarteners whose fingers are not ready to write. They lack the fine motor skills required to write legibly in Kindergarten and beyond. This has been traced back to excessive touchscreen device use.

As adults these days, we barely write at all. And sometimes when we do have to write, doesn't your hand hurt sometimes? Those are the very muscles used in the complex movement of holding a pencil and writing! Muscles the kids need to develop and use.

Isn't screen time a part of life?

Screen time is inevitable these days and a part of modern life. But excessive screen time as defined by American Academy of Pediatrics seems to have some consequences.

Kids naturally inhabit and learn from a three-dimensional world. Screen use limits them to a 2D world that simply gives them information. This can lead to a decline in motor proficiency as per studies.

Kids who use smartphones also experienced language delays.

What the future holds

Information in the world is doubling every 2.5 years. We have Google, Alexa and Siri and various ways to find out what we need to know.

But we will all be obsolete if we don't become and raise creative problem solvers and thinkers!

Here's what we can do. We can encourage projects, activities and skills to balance the screen time out. We can build fine motor skils, encourage imagination, and work on socio-emotional skills. Here are some of the areas we can work on that can balance out the screen time. Children need these activities to build those neural pathways and strengthen their physical and motor skills.

Sensory play

Did you know? Sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathway. It contributes to such vital skills in children, including cognitive skills and language skills.  

Physical skills

When you play with playdough, sift through grains of rice, pick up a small item from the floor to develop pincer grip, and strengthen your fingers, you will not only write better but will also be more independent. You will let the environment be your teacher. Fine-motor skills are engaged as children manipulate the materials with their hands. 


Of course, apps can encourage creativity but we also believe that kids need open-ended literature that they can interpret!  

Free play

One of the most important quests in a child's life is free play. Even adults swear by the power of free play to get those neurons firing away and to develop key survival skills. Here are some ideas for you to try out! 

Spatial reasoning

Spatial Thinking is the way we navigate the world around us and is critical for many STEM careers. Your kids may do spatial thinking activities on a computer but nothing comes close to working on 3D shapes or creating models with your hands. The trick is to have your child get interested. This activity always has takers!

Want more ideas and activities? Check out our blog!



Featured Image: https://flic.kr/p/7QBsAh

You May Like These

Stay in Touch!

Subscribe to Toka Box today! Subscribe Now

Curated with Care in California