Kids Coding

By Jeanelle D. Horcasitas

May 14, 2015 5 min read

We are in the age of information technology. Although our 2015 isn't quite the way that Marty McFly found it in "Back to the Future II," we live in a digital and computerized world. It's tough to disconnect from our phones, laptops, iPads or other electronic devices without suffering from some sort of separation anxiety. Just 50 years ago, many of our current technological advances would have been unfathomable. So what about the children born every day who are immersed in technology the day they enter into this world? Kids born even just 20 years ago have never known a life without electronics and technology -- which is why it's no surprise that now they're starting to learn the language.

Coding seems to be the new language requirement these days. A technological skill such as coding is an impressive ability, especially when the majority of industries rely on technology in one way or another. Despite a resurgence of adult interest in coding, teaching these valuable skills to kids is even more important because it helps them to be competitive candidates for colleges and jobs, and it keeps them up to date with our tech-progressive world. In fact, there are after-school programs being implemented nationwide to teach kids to code. There are even kid-friendly websites, such as Tynker, that help kids learn how to create their own games or Web applications. One of my favorite programs is Girls Who Code, an organization with an ambitious mission to "provide computer science education and exposure to 1 million young women by 2020." Although a lofty goal, Girls Who Code exposes young women to an extremely male-dominated field, in hopes of defying gender stereotypes and providing equal opportunities in the computer sciences.

However, there are other wonderful opportunities for both girls and boys to join, such as the Google Summer of Code program. According to Google Summer of Code, this program has successfully, "brought together over 8,500 students with 485 open source projects to create millions of lines of code." Although coding can be taught to kids through these programs, they're not always accessible or inexpensive. Girls Who Code or Google Summer of Code can also be extremely competitive, and not all kids are invited to be a part of the program. However, this is not the only option that kids (or anyone for that matter) have to learn to code. Like kids, adults also face the difficult decision to enroll in an online or in-classroom course to learn to code, which can be unreasonable with limited time in one's schedule or lack of funding. So I would suggest using one of the best and free online resources out there: Code Academy.

Code Academy is a free interactive online program that teaches you to code a variety of programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, Ruby and PHP. This program goes through a series of lessons with you and splits the screen to show you the actual code on the left side and the product it renders on the right side of the screen. Each programming language has its own estimated course completion; however, you can work on the lessons for as long as need. This is one of my favorite aspects of the program: flexibility. You get to learn on your own time. This is especially fun for kids during the summer who may be stuck at home. It encourages them to learn something new. Another great component of Code Academy is the blog it maintains that updates with new stories from older and younger adults who have learned to code using the online program and what they have been able to accomplish as a result. Many of the testimonies are inspiring and come from around the world.

Coding, like math, is a universal language. People from around the world, young and old, have the capability to learn it. I believe you're never to young (or old) to start learning something new -- so why not learn to code? Who knows? You could create the next "Candy Crush Saga," Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! The great thing about this age of information is that the possibilities are endless. Whether it is a kid learning to code in an after-school program or an adult logging into Code Academy, coding is the language of the future, and everyone wants to talk the talk.

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