Real talk here. Listen, I get it. Screens SURROUND us. They are part of our daily life. We cannot avoid them. But, hear me out....
In today's digital age, where screens dominate our daily lives, concerns about the impact of screen time on various aspects of development have taken center stage. As they should! One critical area we are noticing is the relationship between fine motor skills, handwriting development, and screen time. Extensive research has shed light on the intricate interplay between these factors, revealing both the challenges and potential solutions for maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle for individuals of all ages, and especially children.
Fine Motor Skills, Handwriting, and Screen Time: A Delicate Balance
Fine motor skills, the strength and precise coordination of small muscles in our hands, are vital for tasks such as writing, buttoning clothes, and using utensils.
Studies have indicated a noteworthy link between excessive screen time and potential delays in the development of fine motor skills among children.
Research also suggests that excessive screen time among children may lead to delays in the development of fine motor skills, subsequently impacting their ability to write by hand effectively. The sedentary nature of screen-related activities might limit opportunities for the physical movements necessary to enhance several areas of development, including core strength and posture, hand strength, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity.
Prolonged screen time can contribute to decreased physical activity, which might lead to reduced muscles strength and potential challenges in handwriting. The shift towards digital tasks could mean fewer opportunities for the fine motor skills and hand muscles involved in handwriting, impacting its quality.
Yes, there are some AMAZING apps and sites out there that are paving the way for tech and child development... yet we CANNOT neglect the real consequences of screen use.
Navigating the Challenges: Strategies and Recommendations
1 - Balanced Screen Time:
Striking a balance between screen-related activities and physical play is essential. Implementing guidelines that limit screen time can help children (and adults ;) engage in a more diverse ranges of activities, supporting the development of fine motor strength and skills for effective handwriting.
I challenge YOU to leave the iPads at home and take a car ride or visit a restaurant without them. And look, I KNOW there will be pushback, and whining, and it will be rough at the start. But I PROMISE you that you will not regret it in the end.
Children learn through doing and engaging with the world.
2 - Active Screen Time:
Not all screen time is created equal.
Encouraging interactive apps, games, and programs that require physical engagement can promote motor skill development while minimizing the negative impact of prolonged sedentary behavior.
Likewise, utilizing screens to our advantage through virtual tutoring is another way to build in active screen time. Screens are not the enemy, in fact they are valuable tools and can really make an impact in children's lives if used appropriately.
3 - Incorporating Movement:
Using movement breaks during screen time can mitigate the risks associated with extended periods of sitting.
Stretching, yoga, or short walks can help physically and mentally while counteracting the potential detrimental effects of excessive screen exposure.
Likewise, taking frequent breaks from tech will give their eyes a rest from staring at a screen leading to better eye development outcomes (which impact reading and writing too!).
4 - Outdoor Play - Regular outdoor play not only supports physical strength development but also provides sensory experiences that can enhance fine motor skills for writing.
Activities such as climbing, swinging, and running promote whole body development. Incorporating as much outdoor physical play as possible will only enhance your child's development.
5 - Parental Involvement - Parents play a crucial role in shaping their children's habits. Modeling a balanced approach to screen time and engaging in physical activities as a family can foster healthy habits from a young age.
And listen, I GET IT, we have deadlines and work and commitments that require our use of screens. But being balanced and setting boundaries with your own screen time use will pay off for your family.
The research emphasizes the importance of maintaining balance with screen use and skill development. Striving for a mindful approach to technology usage can help individuals of all ages enhance their physical, cognitive, and social abilities while reaping the benefits of digital advancements.
In this digital age, where screens captivate our attention, the need for motor skill development has never been more crucial.
Are your child's handwriting skills getting the attention they deserve?
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We will be sharing ideas for ways to engage your child when all they want is SCREENS! And we will share activities to engage your child in to build up their motor skills for writing and academics.
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Cameron, C. E., Cottone, E. A., & Murrah, W. M. (2016). Executive Function and Academic Achievement in Primary Grade Students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(8), 1135-1152. Straker, L. M., Smith, A., Hands, B., Olds, T., & Abbott, R. (2009). Screen-based media use clusters are related to other activity behaviors and health indicators in adolescents. BMC Public Health, 9(1), 526.
Carson, V., Hunter, S., Kuzik, N., Gray, C. E., Poitras, V. J., Chaput, J. P., & Tremblay, M. S. (2016). Systematic review of sedentary behavior and cognitive development in early childhood. Preventive Medicine, 89, 224-234.
Rosen, L. D., Whaling, K., Rab, S., Carrier, L. M., & Cheever, N. A. (2013). Is Facebook creating “iDisorders”? The link between clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders and technology use, attitudes and anxiety. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 1243-1254.
Marich, M., & Clark, A. C. (2019). Touchscreen tablet applications for children: Design recommendations for supporting fine motor development and early interactions. Early Child Development and Care, 189(12), 1986-1998.