21/05/2010 05:06 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

One In Five Children Has Never Received A Letter

Many children have never written or received a letter, a new survey has revealed.

The research found that one in five children had never received a handwritten letter, and one in ten had never written a letter themselves.

Email and social networking sites are taking over as a means of communication.

But the Guardian reports that teachers and experts say children are missing out as the traditional methods disappear.

The survey of 1,200 children aged between seven and 14 was commissioned for children's charity World Vision.

More than a quarter had not written a letter in the last year and 43% had not received one.

However almost half had either sent or received an email or a message on a social networking site in the last week.

Child education expert Sue Palmer, the author of Toxic Childhood, told the Guardian: "If children do not write or receive letters, they miss out on key developmental benefits. Handwritten letters are much more personal than electronic communication.

"By going to the trouble of physically committing words to paper, the writer shows their investment of time and effort in a relationship. That's why we tend to hang on to personal letters as keepsakes.

"The effort of writing is a very real one for a child. Painstakingly manoeuvring the pencil across the page, thinking of the best words to convey a message, struggling with spelling and punctuation. It is, however, an effort worth making, because it's only through practice that we become truly literate – and literacy is the hallmark of human civilisation.

"If we care about real relationships, we should invest in real communication, not just the quick fix of a greetings card, text or email. What's more, if we care about civilised human thought, we should encourage our children to invest time and energy in sitting down to write."

The lack of letter-writing means many children don't even know how it's done - half of 11-year-olds and a third of 14-year-olds didn't know how to set out a letter.

The survey was carried out as part of National Letter Writing Day.

Do your children write letters?

Source: The Guardian