Will my children be behind their peers if they aren't already using tablets and computers?

Most likely, no. The ability to use technology competently is not a skill, such as learning letters and numbers, that builds a foundation for the rest of your child's academic career. Kids who have a solid academic base, exposure to a rich variety of experiences -- including the use of digital tools and other social and intellectual activities -- likely will pick up digital skills fast once they start using them.

Some kids might experience temporary social limitations, such as not being able to talk about and play the latest video game with friends. Also, they might not be in tune when technology is introduced in the classroom (which is happening at a fast rate).

Generally, though, the risk of being "left behind" lies with kids who have other challenges, such as being low income or at risk due to home or community situations. If these kids are not exposed to technology, there is a risk of adding a handicap and increasing the digital divide that already exists between higher- and lower-income groups.

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Comments

Parent written by Shannon P.

Our elementary school administrators have, with direct questioning by thoughtful parents, admitted that they have no strategy for the use of technology, and no apparent knowledge of when it is useful or necessary. This is an important question. Steve Jobs did not allow his children to use the iPad, and devices are literally designed to be used with incredible facility by literally anybody. A chid has no need of any technology at all. He or she should be outside in the natural world. Technology training will come, hopefully much later. Get involved. Ask lots of questions. Demand that schools have the burden of proof for introducing technology, especially at the early ages.
Adult written by Seth B.

I disagree with the previous post. TV and screen time in general is not an imaginative activity. It is very passive and dulls the senses ("zone out"). Furthermore, it takes time away from other activities that serve to develop the child's imagination - like plain old play. Imagination is what children need to later on become critical thinkers. I think this is what the original post intended: If you have critical thinking skills, any piece of technology will be simple to pick up and learn, when the appropriate time comes.
Teen, 16 years old written by Silverfall

Let me begin by saying I very highly disagree with the author's opening sentence. To say that being digitally literate is not a skill and serves no educational purpose is extremely shallow, and shows that the author doesn't really understand technology at all. Being literate in technology is EXTREMELY beneficial to everyone, seeing how technological our society is becoming. Many schools are beginning to adopt technology as a tool for learning, and not initially knowing how to use the school's programs would be a detriment to the student.