Young children don’t need technology to learn. They learn best by interacting with loving caregivers and exposure to a rich variety of experiences. But educational standards are changing fast: digital literacy skills are often introduced in kindergarten, Common Core requires the use of technology, and even administrative tasks are completed online. Kids who have little to no tech experience will need to catch up to their more-experienced peers — maybe a little, maybe a lot. There also is a chance that no-tech kids could take a hit socially, if, for example, all their friends play the same online video game that they don’t know about.
Lack of access to technology, such as broadband Internet or the latest-and-greatest tablet, also can make kids fall behind. According to Common Sense’s research report, “Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America,” only 20 percent of lower-income children have a tablet device such as an iPad at home, compared to 63 percent of higher-income children. Only 35 percent of lower-income parents have ever downloaded apps for their kids to use, compared to 75 percent of higher-income parents. If these kids are never 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.
Whether kids are no-tech by choice or circumstance, it’s important that all kids are prepared for success in a technology-filled world. Even if you prefer a tech-light environment, you can still talk to your kids about healthy media habits, such as balancing screen time, and digital citizenship, such as being nice to people online. Starting young improves the chances that kids will carry these lessons for life. Check with your school to find out the grade-by-grade expectations for students’ technology skills. Many schools can link families in need to programs that can equip them with the right tech tools