Fine motor skills affected by overuse of touch screens in children

Research done in Dublin City University has shown that Irish children’s fine motor skills are suffering. The researchers who carried out the study say the reason their fine motor skills are lacking is due to early access to ICT (information and communication technology) at a young age.

Fine motor skills

Fine motor skills allow children to do practical, self help things like zippers and buttons; they are also imperative for their education, especially  their handwriting and ability to wield a pencil.

For the purpose of their study, the researchers tested 253 children from five different schools and had them  engage in two different forms of exercise:

  1. Pencil and paper-based, involving cutting, folding and writing.
  2. Manual dexterity and hand eye coordination, involving throwing, catching and sorting activities.
Results

While a large percentage of younger age groups had little trouble achieving milestones in the tasks, older children in sixth class aged 11 and 12 years struggled.

The researchers argue that the reason for the underwhelming performance in these tasks is the presence of technology in children’s lives.

Literacy expert Sue Palmer says that up to the age of seven, children need exposure to “real life in real space and real time, which means three dimensional experiences”. She goes on to say that children with a lot of access to information and communication technology (phones, tablets, computers) expect instant gratification and this can slow down their ability to persevere and learn new skills in preschool and school.

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