Little Johnny wants an Ipad for Christmas? Getting him one may not be the best idea as research in the UK shows some unwanted consequences when too much technology is introduced into a child's life. The Daily Mail reported:
Toddlers these days are barely out of nappies before they are playing with touch-screen toys and fiddling with iPads.
And now, it seems, they are paying the price – because when they arrive at nursery they are apparently struggling to pick up basic fine-motor skills such as holding pencils, pens and crayons.
Some nurseries have installed interactive ‘smartboards’, digital cameras and touch-screen computers to try to expose children to gadgets at an early age......
But literacy expert Sue Palmer said: ‘I think what children really need up to the age of seven is real life in real space and real time, which means three-dimensional experiences.
‘We already have problems with children not being able to hold a pen or pencil.
'But we are giving our kids instant gratification all the time with ICT and it makes it harder for them to persevere with something that takes a while to learn.
‘There is a real fear that too much engagement with this quick-fix technology is making it more difficult for some children to learn how to read and write.’
June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, said she is not planning to buy iPads for its 24 nurseries.
She said: ‘I know some nurseries are investing in iPads for the children but we are not doing that here at the LEYF.
'iPads are the big thing at the moment and yet nobody seems to have done much research into them.
‘We know art, music and drama works so why bother with something we don’t know enough about yet?’
Pugh on children and technology
And Felicity Marrian, from Iverna Gardens Montessori in London, said: ‘If our children are in fact the most sedentary generation ever, according to the medical authorities, and already spend more time watching television than they do in school, do we really need to add computers and other screen-based devices to the nursery environment?’ Rest of article
Just a Brit problem? Take a look Down Under. The Australian News.com reported earlier this year:
PRIMARY school children are losing their handwriting skills, as touch-screen pinching, swiping and typing and a lack of physical exercise leaves them with underdeveloped arm and hand muscles.
Teachers have warned a growing number of children will perform poorly in the upcoming May 14 NAPLAN tests, because their reliance on technology and sedentary lifestyles mean they lack the arm strength and skills to write answers quickly and concisely.
Educators have also taken a swipe at the tests themselves, saying the national curriculum is being forced on children too early and the pressure to achieve key National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy goals leaves teachers with no time to engage children in play-based learning.
The warning from teachers and early education specialists comes as schools launch their own programs to develop students' motor skills and parents seek outside support from occupational therapists....
Sonja Walker, an English teacher of more than 25 years, has about 30 children, some as young as four, receiving weekly handwriting tuition and fine motor skills support at her occupational therapy centre, Kids First Children's Services, in Sydney's northern beaches area.
Ms Walker said 90 per cent of her students, most of them aged under nine, have handwriting problems as a result of the over use of technology.
"Children's inability to write at length and to have stamina to be able to express their ideas clearly and concisely ... has deteriorated, particularly over the past five years with the growing use of keyboards and other technical devices," she said.
"But the impact of technology isn't just that kids are typing, it's the fact that they are more sedentary in their lifestyle.
"For kids to have good handwriting they need ... strong muscles through the trunk of their body so their arms and hands and fingers are developed well enough to be able to write clearly and legibly and at length."
Queensland Teachers' Union President Kevin Bates said the number of children entering school without knowing how to hold a pencil properly was "alarming", with many so lacking in basic motor skills they are even stumped by scissors.
"The sorts of things that many of us would look at as being simply childish activities like working with playdough or dressing dolls or putting blocks together, those sorts of things are actually critical in developing those fine motor skills and actually lead to the task of writing," he said.....
Occupational therapist Kimberley Strahan, of Adapt Healthcare in Maroochydore, Queensland, said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of children being referred by schools for fine motor skills therapy since the introduction of the iPad.
"Kids use the iPad to colour in, they use it to write, to learn to spell, and parents think they're a one-stop shop and that the iPad is going to fix their child," she said.
Ms Walker said handwriting was also a problem among teenagers, with her occupational therapists increasingly being asked to provide reports for high school students wanting to avoid handwriting in exam situations.
"(They) are being called upon to ... provide reports for schools for children who need special provisions in examination situations because they just can't write," she said.
"They can't spend two hours writing, or in the case of the HSC or the VCE they're doing a three hour examination where they have to write four essays and they can't do it." Rest of article