Educators NZ - Technology hindering kids' writing skills

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Technology hindering kids' writing skills

Handwriting may be a lost art in today’s digital world, according to a new study.

The study, commissioned by BIC New Zealand, has revealed 65% of New Zealand parents believe the skill of handriting will become a lost over the next 20 years.

The survey found more than one third of concerned parents (39%) were more focused on the quality of their child’s handwriting and the fear it would attract unwanted judgement (277%) rather than its underlying cognitive development benefits, suggesting a critical gap in their understanding of the skill’s real benefits.

Lietrary advisor Louise Park says handwriting regularly from a young age provides a foundation necessary for literacy skills later on in life.

“When you write something by hand, there are all these different parts of your brain that light up and engage – your brain doesn’t get the same workout from simply typing on a keyboard,” says Park.

“This study confirmed the majority of parents agree that handwriting is a basic step in communication, aids comprehension skills, and improves mental processes and developments, however, 76% believe kids can express themselves just as well when using technology,” she explains.

Park says this suggests that more attention should be given to handwriting’s real benefits.

“It’s not just a fun way for kids to record and share their bottomless imaginations,” she says. “Studies have proven it improves muscle memory, cognitive development and helps to develop fine motor skills, particularly in formative years.”

“Moreover, research continues to show children who handwrite have improved reading skills, self-confidence, creativity and critical thinking skills; it is a fundamental building block for the future of their education.,” Park adds.

BIC is this month launching its Bright Futures are Written by Hand campaign to encourage and celebrate the skill of handwriting among primary school children, and shine a light on its cognitive development benefits to ensure its place in the future of Kiwi kids via a new interactive website.

Laura Grufas, BIC marketing manager Oceania, says the study found more than half of parents (62%) felt there weren’t enough occasions for their children to practice their handwriting in today’s digital age.

“Handwriting – whether it’s for homework or just for fun – is an important vehicle for communication and helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence, and sparks their creativity and individuality,” says Grufas.

“Shining a light on the many benefits of handwriting is at the heart of our Bright Futures are Written by Hand campaign, and we hope it will get parents and kids to pick up a pen more and more – for the fun of it but also for the significant developmental advantages,” she explains.

The study also found that almost half of Kiwi parents (45%) see technology – such as the use of iPads in the classroom – as a benefit rather than a hindrance to a child’s development, however Park says finding a balance between the two is key.

“Seventy six percent of parents agree the benefits of handwriting cannot be replaced by technology and the reality is both are extremely important to a child’s learning and development,” she says. “We need to find ways to get the best of both worlds and spark a love affair with writing by hand early on in life because it uses processes and skills that simply cannot be replaced by a keyboard.”

And while the majority of children are still using pen and paper to undertake traditional writing tasks, more than half of their parents admit to their children opting for an electronic gadget (65%) or time in front of the TV (8%) over a handwriting activity (15%).

To remind kids, their parents and teachers about the importance of handwriting and encourage them to put pen to paper, BIC New Zealand has launched its new website complete with fact sheets and exercises suitable for children aged five to 11.

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