Are your kids spending all afternoon surfing the internet or playing video games? Let’s be honest – that’s a problem. It takes time away from academics, and it isn’t going to lead to a career. However, their interest in computers and software could. Let’s look at all the reasons why coding is a great after school activity.
The Economic Argument
Only a tiny fraction of people uploading their game play to the internet earn any real money from it, and there isn’t much demand for video game testers, either. However, there is demand for coders, whether they design video games, operating systems, apps or other software applications. And you don’t have to wait until college to get them started. Give them access to websites and apps that teach them the basics of coding. Coding for kids sites can teach them more advanced skills like designing apps through code-free platforms and writing basic code. This lays the foundation for a wide array of marketable skills.
Your kids may learn to love computer science, and you’ve fostered it in a productive manner that could shape the rest of their lives. Whether they work in programming, tech support or user interface design, you’ve already taught them that they can do it. And they’ll be ahead of their peers when they hit college, because the basics are already familiar to them. Furthermore, once they’ve learned the basics of coding, they can take up hobbies like app development, game development, or robotics challenges that teach them skills that are valued in the marketplace. Or they’ll just solve a problem for you via Raspberry Pi and robotic Legos.
The Practical Argument
You want to get your kids engaged in something educational. They’re already interested in computers. Use that to get them involved in online coding classes. They’ll learn something relevant to their future. It may teach them how to solve software glitches and hardware problems, and then they’re not running to you for help as often. If they don’t stick with it, you’ve done your best to engage them in STEM. And you gave them something useful to do with their time instead of buying the bonus pack with their favorite gaming site.
These skills also get applied in the real world in a variety of ways. Kids may create an app to meet a personal need or promote their pet cause. The coding classes could teach them far more about how the digital world works. Now they understand when the issue is the server versus their computer, and they don’t waste time rebooting a machine when the server hosting the app is the problem. Creating the logical flow of data in the app or the handling of variables in code provides a real world example of logic and the problems created by a failure to follow it. They may also apply math skills to the application, whether it is correctly calculating a date or verifying that the end value is correct.
The Cultural Argument
There are many people concerned about the digital divide, the haves and have nots when it comes to technological expertise. Pay for coding classes when your kids are younger, and they’ll learn the basics at an early age. They’ll internalize the idea that they can do it. Whether you want to encourage your daughter to pursue a STEM career or simply give them a taste of high tech careers, you’re opening up the world to them. And if they don't develop an interest in it as a career, you didn't waste a year of engineering tuition while they figured that out.