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The Impact of Gadgets on Fine Motor Skills: Exploring the Relationship

by on 10/07/2023 1119

Having gadgets for children can be beneficial because they can be creative by playing mobile games or stimulating their senses and imagination by using creative applications. However, excessive use of gadgets can cause children to become reliant on them, and it can also lead to addiction if they use them without proper parental guidance.

Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscles in the hands, which are commonly used in activities such as using pencils, scissors, Lego or Duplo construction, doing up buttons, and opening lunch boxes.


How can you tell if a child has a fine motor skill difficulty at a glance?

  • Avoidance or disinterest in fiddly finger skills.
  • Preferring physical activities over sitting tasks.
  • Interest in ‘passive’ activities such as IT (for example, watching TV and a tablet that does not demand fine motor skills).
  • Lack of interest in pencil or scissors skills.
  • Being ‘bossy’ in play and asking others to "draw a fish for me."
  • Not persisting in the face of a challenge (for example, asking parents to fix a problem without physically attempting to fix it themselves).
  • Waiting for parents to dress them or clean their teeth rather than trying themselves.
  • Refusal to use a stylus pen with the tablet.


It’s simpler to hand your child a tablet or smartphone than encourage them to perform musclebuilding play like:

  • Cutting and sticking.
  • Building blocks.
  • Ropes activities.
  • Pulling toys.

Because of this, children aren’t developing the needed foundational skills they require to hold and grip a pencil. Very young toddlers miss out on opportunities to use their hands when they spend too much time tapping and swiping on a tablet or smartphone instead of stacking blocks or playing with pull toys. The solution is not eliminating devices from your toddler’s or preschooler’s life; after all, schools already use tablets in the classroom. Now, it’s about consistency in setting rules and boundaries and providing your little one equal or maybe even more time to play than screens.


Homework/extra tips for parents

A few early activities to develop your child’s fine motor skills are letting him to play with clay, grip tweezers or droppers meant for young kids, pull the zipper up and down, paint with cotton buds, or lace up ribbons.

This article was written by Anis Arsyida Binti Abd Rashid (Occupational Therapist) from SI World. SI World is a professional therapy centre for children with special needs with centre locations in Klang Valley, Kedah, Perak and Sabah.

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