How technology use is impacting children’s spatial awareness skills
Spatial awareness skills include understanding where our body parts are on our own body as well as understanding where our own body parts are in relation to other objects such as furniture, people, toys, etc.
Spatial awareness skills help us to avoid bumping in to tables or friends in a classroom. Spatial awareness also helps us to be able to catch and throw a ball, place lego blocks together, do up buttons and drink bottles, and write sentences with legible spacing in between each word.
Over the past 5 years I have observed more children having difficulty with spatial awareness and the concept of personal space, as well as poor hand-eye coordination skills for throwing and catching a ball and handwriting.
I am sure there are many reasons for children’s motor development lacking. However, the one factor that I put a lot of emphasis on is children’s technology use including phones, tablets, video games, and computers.
When children spend hours on computer games, they are lacking the time and opportunity spent outdoors playing basketball and riding their bike around obstacles. During computer games their head and body remain inactive. Their body isn’t practicing the necessary skills of throwing and catching, dodging the family pet in the backyard, or walking across various terrains such as hills, curbs, and playgrounds.
As adults we take these spatial awareness skills for granted because we mostly played basketball, cricket, and dancing out in our local street with our neighbours. Our bodies are able to perform basic ball skills, balance activities, and fine motor skills because as children we had ample opportunity to run, jump, balance, and play. However, some children are spending 6 to 8 hours in front of a screen per day.
Children are avoiding 6 to 8 hours of active play outdoors or riding a bike. As a result we have young children who are struggling with the concept of personal space, as well as finding it difficult to sit still and focus during mat time, hold a pencil correctly, and are often bumping in to their peers outdoors at recess and lunch time.