TV and tablets blamed for thousands of children’s lack of basic development skills

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
8 November 2012

Thousands of children are starting school without basic physical skills, according to new research.

And as we might have guessed, modern entertainment (think iPads and TV) is getting the blame.

[Related: 'Ban TV for under 3s']

Experts have suggested that combined with ‘TV parenting’, preschoolers spend so much time playing with these tablets and hi-tech toys, they’re falling behind on physical development and motor skills.

In the research 60 reception children at a West Midlands school were given short tests to determine their physical development. Almost half showed signs of delayed development and a further 30 per cent had some signs of physical immaturity.

Many of the children found basic tasks such as crawling and standing on one leg for three seconds difficult or impossible and experts were alarmed that some appeared to have lost some baby reflexes - such as lifting their arms and simple head movements.

[Related: Children shun books for screens]

Our overprotected ‘cotton wool’ culture has also taken a share of the blame, with experts suggesting our reliance on prams and travel systems mean we don’t actually physically pick up our children as often as parents used to. Tots also walk and crawl less for fear of their safety.

Former primary head teacher Pete Griffin, who ran the study, said: “The main issue is that children don’t have the same kind of physical challenge and upbringing they might have had 40 or 50 years ago.
“There’s less creativity involved in playing on the screen or watching TV.”

He added that attention spans would also suffer: “TV comes in very small bites so children are not used to concentrating for long periods, video games move from one stimulus to another very rapidly.”

[Related: Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2012 - winners]

Worrying, of the children with physical development problems, more than three quarters (77 per cent) were also found to be behind academically. And with our exam-based culture, Mr Griffin warned that these children would find it hard to catch up.

Do you struggle to coax your kids away from screens? Send us your tips on Twitter.

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