As election season comes to a close you will start hearing this phrase a lot; “Children are our future.”  It may be overused, but that doesn’t make it any less true.  The performance of our future CEO’s, lawmakers, software engineers, designers and developers will be affected by what they experience as children.  As technology moves forward, we as a society can only hope to move forward with it, and the best way to do that is to be comfortable with it at a young age.  That is exactly what is starting to happen with tablets as they become more affordable and more likely to show up in the average household.

A recent study by Kids and Consumer Electronics found that tablet use is up by 13% by kids ages 4-14 since just last year.  Since tablets are growing in popularity, it’s only natural that kids would start to want one, but before now it hasn’t been feasible for most parents to purchase them.  With many low cost tablets hitting the market and tons of educational applications being made to help with young children, there are now parents willing to spend the money.

I have worked in the technology field for several years, and most of them have been with education.  One of the key elements of our job was to make sure children were able to use the computers at all times, and that software was on the machine specifically for them.  This goes beyond helping them with reading and math, but preparing them for a world where knowledge of electronics and technology are demanded of workers in every field.  Building that familiarity with these devices is essential for them to grow up successful and even on par with other students.  Some schools are even testing programs that replace traditional textbooks with tablets.  A deal made with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has allowed some K-12 texts to be placed on tablets for kids to have a more interactive learning experience.  USA Today reports that students using iPads for their textbooks are able to share notes easier and struggle less in class.  One teacher even said it had “…reinvigorated my love for teaching”

Will this start to have an effect on our workforce?  I think it will definitely change what hiring managers look for in the next several years as students enter the corporate world.  Expectations will be higher for those coming out of school, especially when it comes to their comfort level when using high end technology such as tablets and other smart devices.  No longer will hours of trainings be required to bring employees up to date on the latest technology.

So put your books back on the shelf, and get your tablets charged and ready, because we are moving forward, and doing so without being weighed down by textbooks.