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Is Technology Ruining Our Ability to Write?

by on July 02, 2012
in Health and Home, News, Blog :: 20 comments

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When is the last time you wrote something by hand? According to research commissioned by Docmail, a UK-based printing company, the average person hasn’t done so for 41 days, with one in three of those surveyed saying they haven’t had reason to hand-write anything properly for more than six months.

Think about it: When’s the last time you got a hand-written letter in your mail box? And how’s your cursive looking these days?

Check out these findings from Docmail’s study:

  • Two thirds of those surveyed said if they do write something on paper, it’s usually something only they will see, such as a note or reminder.
  • More than half said they don’t take pride in their handwriting.
  • One in five can’t remember the last time they were required to write something neatly.
  • Over half said the quality of their handwriting has noticeably declined, with one in seven being “very ashamed” of it.
  • Nearly half (44%) said their handwriting isn’t easy to read and a third said they often struggle to read their own writing.
  • Even so, remarkably a sixth of those surveyed don’t believe handwriting should still be taught in schools.

That’s just silly. Not teach handwriting in schools?

Or is it?

After all, technology makes it possible to never have to pick up a pen or pencil. You can make notes to yourself on your smartphone as well as throw away your paper calendar in lieu for one on your phone or an online platform like Google Calendar that will sync with your devices and send you alerts.

Instead of sending a note to your child’s teacher about an issue or question, you can email her.

On Mother’s Day you can click around online and buy a gift certificate that sites such as Amazon—where Mom can buy practically anything her heart desires—will deliver to her either electronically or in the regular mail. You can’t even sign the card that comes with it, if you choose to send one.

All this technology is not only affecting the quality of our handwriting, it’s hurting our ability to spell, as well. Four in ten of those surveyed said they increasingly rely on predictive text, which is when your mobile device finishes a word you start to input.

Even worse, people are starting to use “text talk” outside of texting. I have a friend on a certain social network who sends me messages such as “U should come dancing with Caitlyn n I some night.”

Call me a professional writer, but it seems to me if you’re using a keyboard off of which words can speedily fly, there’s really no reason to shorten them. Yet you see it all the time: OMG, LOL, WTH (that’s a nicer version of the more profane acronym in common use, BTW) and they do degrade the level of your communications, IMHO—at least if you’re dealing with someone who might judge your intelligence or other measure by how well you use words.*

That’s not to say technology hasn’t been a detriment to my own handwriting. A few years ago an older person with a badly shaking hand asked me to help her hand write a Christmas letter. I tried resuscitating my cursive and it was a disastrous and ugly affair.

I’ll bet if you take a look at the handwriting of your grandparents or even parents, you’re likely to see beautiful cursive.

What’s your take on the state of old fashioned writing? Do we have cause for concern? Should kids be taught keyboarding instead of printing?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.

*If you don’t know what these acronyms mean, here’s a brief primer: OMG (Oh my God), LOL (laugh out loud), WTH (what the hell), BTW (by the way) and IMHO (in my humble opinion). Others that Docmail says are common include U (you), FYI (for your information), R (are), 4 (for), 2 (too/ to), Gr8 (great), MSG (message) and K (OK).

Discussion loading


From Andrea Snow Aberle on July 02, 2012 :: 3:08 pm

I was just thinking about this. I am 43 so I am right in the middle of the emails and the non - emailers. I grew up with hand written letters during summers to keep busy and to keep contact with school friends.
Now I am sending written letters to my mom who is not on the internet and to a select few who prefer to hold real paper.
My nieces and nephews even prefer a handwritten note over an email or a phone call! It shows we care.
The only major thing I have noticed is that the duration which I can hold a pen has decreased. I used to cronicle every detail of life in a journal for over 12 years. Now I can barely finish a 2 page letter. However my typing skills are just as fast as speech!
I am trying to preserve my penmanship and love of writing while keeping in touch with family. I hope our schools continue to teach writing in school.
Sincerely Andrea


Vimala Alphabet

From Darlene Cunningham on July 02, 2012 :: 4:29 pm

If anyone is interested in learning about handwriting that will change your life check out the Vimala Alphabet. It is not for everyone but it is interesting. Learning this would be great for those trying to reconnect with handwriting.


Handwriting...getting to be a lost art...

From Lynn Thomas on July 02, 2012 :: 5:56 pm

I feel that I’m part of a very small minority who even bothers to do any type of handwritten correspondence or notes.  I do it because I like to.  But, yes, I feel that technology is literally erasing our handwriting skills, let alone, reading, comprehension, spelling…  I’ll continue to be a holdout against all of it, though.  As for the current and future generations, at least teach them keyboarding by the time they’re in kindergarten…AND the difference between “its” and “it’s”...


Back to college

From lisa on July 02, 2012 :: 6:18 pm

The first time I had graduated from college was 15 years ago. Well, I have just finished my first quarter back to college and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done so well if I hadn’t have rewritten every note I took in Plant Biology. It was an awesome way for me to review the info for a second time. It was a huge help. I’m a very visual person and it is the best way for me to learn. No handwriting in schools?! Absurd!


Handwriting is important...

From Finetexan on July 03, 2012 :: 6:21 pm

We do not want to turn into robots. I am an oldy 67 years old and I love handwriting and fonts and art. We are doing away with all of the creativity that goes with handwriting and drawing. Everything is computer. Our children need to use their brains and fine motor skills that go with handwriting. You can be computer literate and learn how to write well. Why limit yourself or the upcoming students?? One does not negate the other. The more you know the better. Use your thinking skills and your fine motor skills as much as you can. Punching a keyboard is not developing our kids.


I wrote today. I also

From Tiffany on July 02, 2012 :: 7:29 pm

I wrote today. I also like sending real cards to people and I always write a little something inside.

I think handwritting should still be taught in school forever. There is a commercial I see of a kid using a tablet and writing with his fingertip…I wonder if he knows how to actually use a pen and paper to write.

I was amazed when my son said he didn’t know how to cursive write and that they are not teaching it in school. I went out and bought one of those dry erase books so he could learn to do cursive writing.

technology is replacing everything but we still need those “primitive skills”. A lot of other countries don’t have technology like we do and what happens if you visit one? they give you paper and pen and look at them like they are nuts.



From Ronni on July 02, 2012 :: 11:21 pm

I do both. Now at almost 50 and having bad arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome typing is much easier. I must admit I miss writing though :(  I still write a little everyday at work but mostly typing..They should not do away with it! Technology is great but can I tell you how many times computers and cells haven’t worked! I sure miss the old days LOL


Pen and Paper

From Joyce on July 03, 2012 :: 12:05 am

This article is timely. I spent about an hour at an office supply store the other day. I had to buy the perfect pen, the weight, size, shape. All those things including if it was fine or medium tip. I spend many hours on my cell phone, tablet, laptop or desktop devices;however when it comes to writing, that is an art.  My handwriting was never the best, what I write by hand has always seemed to touch the heart more then when I type it. We will never be able to replace the love and warmth of a handwritten letter.


Paper + Stationery + Cool Pens RULE

From Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly on July 03, 2012 :: 3:46 am

I still have penpals from childhood.

I go an office meeting with a notebook.

I hide my special pens from those who would pilfer them.

I write and review ergonomic pens.

I still send handwritten thank you notes.

My holiday cards are signed by me. not typed in by the printer shop.

I love real letters!



From Ginger on July 03, 2012 :: 7:11 am

It is absolutely ridiculous that handwriting not be taught in school!  It’s bad enough they don’t put any emphasis on spelling and grammar, but everyone needs to know how to write!  I think part of the problem with this country today is that the basic skills are being swept under the rug.


We Take So Much For Granted!

From Hollis on July 03, 2012 :: 10:21 am

OF COURSE they should teach handwriting! We now have machines that can do almost everything for us. If we decided we didn’t need to use our bodies anymore and they stopped teaching physical education, what kind of people would we be? (It’s a rhetorical questions - we’d be overweight, flabby, wheezing, graceless, incompetent, dependent, etc.)

Although we benefit from machines in many ways, our lives and even our survival would be compromised if we totally depended on machines. Its a blessing to be able to communicate - and I can communicate with a pencil, a piece of chalk, a stick in the dirt. Many people might not see that as something worthwhile. Ask a hostage, a castaway, a lost hiker, a prisoner of war. For some of them, the ability to communicate without machinery might have made the difference between life or death. We take so much for granted!


Not rhetorical

From Josh Kirschner on July 03, 2012 :: 10:39 am

Many schools have stopped teaching physical education or severely cut back.


Point Well Taken. And that's the tragic part...

From Hollis on July 05, 2012 :: 7:31 am

Point well taken. And that’s the tragic part. Our students ARE becoming overweight, flabby, wheezing, dependent… Just look at the stats on childhood obesity. Do our children need more machines, or more runs around the park? No matter how many amenities and conveniences we can devise, we’ll never be able to escape or overcome our basic human nature.

We are physical bodies, designed to use them to survive and thrive. There’s no getting around that! And I respectfully suggest that the physical act of writing has relevance to our brain function that we may not have discovered yet. It’s a graceful, useful, life-enhancing art. Easy for me to say, I suppose, because like you guys, I can write!


Physical Ed

From Ronni on July 06, 2012 :: 8:35 am

I can’t understand why they would stop PE as we called it..not only that but they don’t have recess either, no time to get some adrenaline pumping and circulation. I haven’t heard anything here in Florida about stopping writing. My grandson who just turned 9, has had that (and does quite well, I must say).
And as for writing I know about 100 physicians that could take another class in it smile and not just the young docs either smile I think they should have all the basics along with the arts, and PE to be well rounded and the experience in all can lead them to their destiny.
How about manners! This is so lacking in todays society, something that should be taught at home and continued in school. I make my grandson hold doors especially for women. Please & thank you have also gone by the wayside…’s not just technology that’s making this generation like they are, it’s the entire country and morals (or lack of) that’s hurting them.


Basic Skills.

From Allan Price on July 03, 2012 :: 1:02 pm

Writing and reading are basic, fundamental skills that should be available to every individual. First you walk; then you fly.


What makes you happy.

From susan silver on July 03, 2012 :: 11:56 pm

Sometimes,I just need to tell people ,I think that they should do what ever makes them happy.

My Mother taught me a long time ago,that there is nothing better than a hand written note. Because it is personal. It took you time to get the paper,and then to write down your thoughts. And then to look at your handwriting to make sure someone could read it.

When I get hand written notes,they just give me a good feeling. But their are a whole generation of people taught to write on computers. Is that wrong??? Not if it makes them and the receiver feel good. So,can we celebrate this independence day by being independent?



From Ronni on July 06, 2012 :: 8:17 am

Good point Susan! That is what we are all about right!?


Naysayers Know Better. F-R-I-G-T-E-N-I-N-G! Mind Control

From Valerie Dehl on July 05, 2012 :: 3:59 am

You who worry are like me. But you are naive. Yes, I agree. I subjected myself to three full college degrees. I often found it effortless to learn using such techniques, writing down notes on a summary I used to call “a cheat sheet”. The students of today will progressively learn more like “Teva”. They’ll get the knowledge they are to have implanted through brainwaves. After they “hear” it once, they’ll have the complete recall they are to have. Handwriting won’t be necessary for that or anything else. What they will all have to continue doing is “barking”. I’m sorry I mean talking. They all do… into their cell phones, all day, at deafening decibles. We will still always see beautiful script. Witness those popular T’s. “Affliction”, “Redemption”, “Loyalty”, “Rowalty” Hum? Well Whatever.


Written treasures

From Carole on July 05, 2012 :: 6:27 am

I am known as the “note lady.” I try to write positive, upbeat, supportive notes to individuals I love and/or work with. Many await my notes with positive anticipation. How do I know? They tell me in comments, calls and best of all, hugs! A written note is personal and is easily placed in ofen seen places so that a reminder of love is easily visible.


Handwriting: Left or Right Brain?

From Pat Chiappa on July 09, 2012 :: 9:06 pm

I’ve certainly noticed I can’t write as well anymore. I often type my thoughts before writing them on a card - it’s as though my brain is wired to write from a keyboard now.
I’m 57, went to catholic school and got awards for handwriting - the nuns would be mortified to see the chicken scratch I currently call writing.


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