When Screentime prevents playtime, what happens to little hands?

When we think about the ramifications of too much screentime on young kids, we often first think of poorer social skills. As an Occupational Therapist, I also notice, poorer hand strength, finger dexterity and immature grasp. I recently started treating a child who is extremely weak in his hands. He knows all his letters and how to form them but has such poor endurance. He knows the correct grasp to use but assumes an immature one because he gets tired. I asked the sweet boy what he does after school he said he does his homework. I pushed him, “and then what?” He said “I play on my ipad.”

I mentioned this to his mom, who is amazing. She got him every tool I mentioned would be good for him. She said she limits screentime as much as she can. I understood, I am a working mom like her. It is so hard to come home after work and have dinner to cook and dishes to wash and kids to bathe and a home to tidy. I gave her a suggestion, a homework assignment for OT. His homework is to PLAY. I expect him to play WITH TOYS everyday for 30 mintues after homework before ipad. Here is the list of toys I recommended for his age:

KINEX

CRAYON ROCKS

MR. POTATO HEAD

LEGO JUNIOR

PLAYDOH

KINETIC SAND

OPERATION

BEY BLADES

This is my prescription for all little hands: put them to use! Kids should be playing with toys that require them to us their hands. Children need to excercise the tiny muscles that make up their hands every…single…day.

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