Despite ample time spent writing, coloring, and drawing in my youth, it appears that I have failed to master the basic skill of properly holding a writing utensil. That's according to The Guardian, which recently reported on modern kids' inability to properly hold a pencil or pen due to their growing reliance on technology, leading us to this rather surprising graphic:
Per this illustration, it would appear that I am a classic thumb-wrap grasper, meaning I use my thumb to stabilize the pencil rather than allowing it to assist with my hand movements. This is in stark contrast to the correct "dynamic tripod," which is when the thumb, index finger, and middle fingers work together to allow small, coordinated movements.
While my thumb-wrap grasp hasn't negatively impacted my life in any perceivable way, these "incorrect" forms are reportedly becoming more and more common in young kids; some even struggle to hold a pen, pencil, crayon, or marker at all. Pediatric occupational therapists are concerned that children may be developing handwriting later in life because of an overuse of technology.
"Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago," said Sally Payne, the head pediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust, to the publication. "To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills." Payne blames this on the changing nature of play. "It's easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes.
Because of this, they're not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil."
While a lack of fine motor skills is obviously cause for concern, a 2012 study of 120 fourth-graders argued that "among four basic 'mature' pencil grasp types, none came out on top as the obviously better choice," reports ScienceAlert. The four mature grasps include the dynamic tripod, the lateral tripod, dynamic quadrupod, and lateral quadrupod (pictured below). So even if you or your child is not doing the perfect "dynamic tripod," it's not necessarily a cause for concern.
Are you holding your writing utensil incorrectly? Head over to The Guardian for more.