OT – Using a Keyboard vs Writing by Hand

The technology market is booming today and children and adults alike are texting, tapping, and typing on keyboards more than ever. This leaves less time for children to master the art of handwriting. However, based on the study from Indiana University, handwriting is extremely important. Handwriting hones fine motor skills, increases brain activity, and can often predict how academically successful a child will be in ways keyboarding cannot.

This study focuses on how writing by hand can change how children find out and their brains create. Excellent handwriting can mean much better grades as studies have shown that a mediocre paper is graded a lot higher if the handwriting is neat and much lower when the handwriting isn’t.

This same research shows that by forming letters by hand our brain behaves much differently than pressing down a key. Simply put, handwriting aids memory. Once a child has learned handwriting, they can then move on and focus on the actual subject, rather than worry about how to form the letters.

Handwriting engages different brain circuits than keyboarding. The contact of pen or pencil to paper sends the brain a message and the repetitive process integrates motor pathways to the brain. When a patient has suffered a stroke or other injury disallowing them to write, Occupational Therapists (OTs) work with these patients to find these motor pathways and help them relearn how to write.

While certain technologies could support invigorate the practice of handwriting with tools that enable users to hand-scribble notes on the touch screen as opposed to paper, it nonetheless will not entirely replace the pressure sensations of a student who’s learning handwriting. As we see further advancements in technology OTs will have the opportunity to integrate these tools into their therapy plans for greater success rates.

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