These days, it seems like technology is absolutely everywhere.
Remember 2019? It pales in comparison to 2020’s tech infusion. Heading into the office happens from home, and students connect with classmates through screens. Plus, the STEM stats speak for themselves.
Especially as we’re spending more time apart, our world lives and breathes online.
The gears turning all of these tools? Rows upon rows of code.
With that in mind, it’s a perfect time to ask: why is coding important? Why should kids learn to code? Is coding beneficial to young people?
If we look at the big picture painted by headlines and statistics and connect the dots, there are plenty of answers out there.
Why Should Kids Learn to Code?
We’ve distilled the top ten reasons why kids should learn to code, and why coding is so important to today’s world and to the next generation.
1. Coding is the fastest-growing STEM field
That’s right: the T in STEM reigns supreme here. We know that careers in STEM, computer science in particular, have seen exponential growth lately.
And this field still hasn't finished its growth spurt. One notable study projects that by 2024, 73% of all STEM industry growth will be in computer science professions. The Department of Labor estimates another whooping 546,200 coding jobs will be added by 2028.
When skyrocketing demand talks, money listens—a career in coding boasts a median income of $86,980 and hourly wages averaging $38.85. So, if debating which sector to enter, all signs point to coding as the best bet in STEM.
2. Coding skills give a serious competitive edge
Whether on the hunt for a summer internship, full time job, or side hustle, there’s no doubt that coding is a valuable skill. According to Code.org, 71% of STEM jobs nowadays require coding of some kind, but just 8% of college graduates have the skills and computer science degrees to meet that demand.
Having these skills is a surefire way to stand out.
Learning to program may seem intimidating, or perhaps years away. Never fear. You don’t need access to the halls of Stanford or MIT to learn to code. So, if you find yourself asking the question, is coding for me? Or, will my kids enjoy coding? It has never been easier (or more fun!) to get started.
3. With coding knowledge, kids can “unlock” the world around them
Visualize with me for a minute: if there were a full Back to the Future situation on our hands, how many people could actually explain the inner workings of the modern world? I’ll wait.
But seriously, think about how many staples of daily 2020 life run on code. From this morning’s Zoom meeting, to your smartphone, to Tik Tok; languages like Python and Java hold the keys. By learning the lingo of code, kids can unlock the secrets of tools used by millions, but understood by very few.
4. Coding is logical AND creative
No, that's not an oxymoron. The fundamentals of coding may be logical and left-brained, but its creative applications are endless. Kids develop multiple cognitive capacities while coding, and it’s pretty amazing how many different skills synchronize at once. While learning, kids can build the logic of a coder alongside the creativity of a designer, an unstoppable repertoire of skills.
Coding also offers something all young people need: the opportunity to express themselves.
Every child has interests, passions; a voice. Whether developing their own video game or building a passion project website, it’s amazing what strings of 1’s and 0’s can become.
5. Coding is fun and satisfying
Coding produces tangible results. This motivates kids to keep going, even when running into obstacles (in a robotics class, sometimes in a literal sense). There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing something you built come to fruition.
“Gamification,” infusing a learning environment with game-like challenges and rewards, is also huge these days. There are countless tools and courses in programs like Scratch, Roblox, and Minecraft that interweave programming with games kids already love.
This is a big piece for younger minds—even kindergartners who want to get started coding. Introducing coding through games and other activities kids might already know and enjoy could help with engagement.
6. Coding improves communication skills
Yep, you read that correctly. Think of Python as a language like Spanish or Mandarin, only without any of the things we take for granted when communicating with another person. That means no facial expressions, body language, or tone.
Ok, so maybe it’s rather different than Spanish or Mandarin, but hear me out.
To communicate successfully with a computer, kids are challenged to break down concepts into their simplest form. This is unique to the world of programming in a really awesome, “hello world” kind of way. It’s tough to replicate that kind of challenge or the reward in any other field.
7. Coding teaches persistence and patience
It’s a pattern every programmer knows: plan, iterate, debug: then rinse and repeat. Tenacity and learning from failure are everything in this field. After all, coding requires breaking problems down into chunks and applying the scientific method until that epic “it works!” moment.
Of course, an engineer’s mindset has plenty of other uses. Beyond the tech world, if you take a great plan and add patience to strong problem-solving skills, you’re well on the way to success.
8. Coding can be lucrative—yes, even for kids!
Kids are also using Roblox and other games to market in-game features they’ve created. That’s right: kids can make money by playing and understanding video games.
Still not convinced? Check out the growing number of hackathons kids can compete in for some serious cash (what's a hackathon?), and learn more about the different ways kids can make money online from home.
9. Coding provides the best kind of learning experience
Ok, here’s the real secret to getting kids excited about a new topic or skill. Study after study has pointed to the benefits of project-based learning, or PBL. Inherently, project based learning starts and ends with something kids care about and are interested in. When given the opportunity to incorporate their passions with expert guidance, kids’ learning goes through the roof.
Learning to code also offers the perfect opportunity to work in teams, something educational experts know produces amazing results. Cooperative learning increases student engagement and motivation in ways working solo simply can’t compete with. Plus, cooperative learning teaches lessons in teamwork and problem-solving that might have been left out of traditional academic curriculum.
10. Coding is the universal language of change
Think about it. Almost every innovation that has changed the way we work, communicate, and live our lives centers on the tech industry. We know this because we have to look no further than the smartphone notification that just distracted us, right?
This goes way beyond our day to day. Our world is changing, and programmers get to be at the epicenter of that change.
On a global scale, coding is already bringing together millions of people of diverse backgrounds, native languages, and points of view. More and more organizations and companies are drawing attention to the representation gaps in tech and taking action.
There has never been a more exciting, forward-thinking time to enter this field.
Looking at kids and coding, and what is waiting ahead, we’re confident that the best is yet to come.