Time magazine has an interesting article today about how Gen Y and younger have lost the art of handwriting. Digital natives have little need for honing the skill of creating beautiful (or legible) letters when most of their work is typed up on the computer in the end.
According to the author, technology is only part of the reason - she also attributes it the rise in standardized testing in education:
Why? Technology is only part of the reason. A study published in the February issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology found that just 9% of American high school students use an in-class computer more than once a week. The cause of the decline in handwriting may lie not so much in computers as in standardized testing. The Federal Government's landmark 1983 report A Nation at Risk, on the dismal state of public education, ushered in a new era of standardized assessment that has intensified since the passage in 2002 of the No Child Left Behind Act. "In schools today, they're teaching to the tests," says Tamara Thornton, a University of Buffalo professor and the author of a history of American handwriting. "If something isn't on a test, it's viewed as a luxury." Garcia agrees. "It's getting harder and harder to balance what's on the test with the rest of what children need to know," she says. "Reading is on there, but handwriting isn't, so it's not as important." In other words, schools don't care how a child holds her pencil as long as she can read.
I'd still put my money on technology's huge impact on the way young people's written communication, language and learning. The death of handwriting is the first of many old-school casualties to the digital revolution.
Mourning the Death of Handwriting (TIME)