UK kids can use phones but not building blocks, teachers worry

Nursery school children in the UK arrive knowing how to use technology but not how to play with their toys, teachers have warned.

They fear that tablets are being given to children to use "as a replacement for contact time with their parents", hindering their ability to progress cognitively at school.

Related: UK schools budget cuts leaves IT classes struggling

The over use of technology is damaging concentration and causing behavioural problems Colin Kinney, a teacher in Northern Ireland, told The Guardian.

"Teachers talk of students who come into their classrooms having spent most of the previous night playing computer games and their attention spans are so limited they might as well not be there," Kinney added.

Another teacher, Mark Montgomery, added that there is less need to learn and retain knowledge" because information is readily available for students to access via the Internet. Children at his school, Montgomery said, were struggling continuously to learn lines from a play.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers, meeting in Manchester, expressed concern about government sponsored free schools programmes and the million put into converting schools to academies.

See more: UK schools to save £840m through Virgin Media IT scheme

"We hear of the conflicts of interest, with at least three of the biggest academy chains being linked to the Conservative party through donation; the Harris Federation, the ARK Schools and the David Ross Foundation," said Mark Baker, senior VP of ATL.

"Private companies are thriving on the spoils of consultancy fees, legal and accountancy bills. Some £77m of taxpayers' money which could otherwise have been available for children's education."