Children today are using computers earlier than ever before. By the time the majority of children start kindergarten they are already semi-proficient with a computer, being able to load the programs and games that they want to play with, and some may even be able to find things online. Unfortunately the focus is now shifting away from teaching children how computers work, and is instead moving towards teaching them only how to use them, and this is causing problems.
The problems are two-fold. Firstly, the amount of software that a child now needs to understand has grown hugely in the past couple of decades. Learning the software alone is now a far more full-time need than it was before.
Secondly, it is important to remember that computers are becoming increasingly more complex. Thirty years ago a home PC was simple, and could be built at home from a kit. Today’s PCs are incredible pieces of machinery that require delicate soldering for the many parts that they contain. Some of these parts are tiny too-too small to handle easily to solder to a circuit board. This means that a child cannot learn in the same way-through hands on experimentation like they used to be able to. If today’s children are to be able to understand computers fully and not be left behind as the technology marches forward, then they need to learn early on and keep up to date.
There are at least two risks to children not being properly trained in how computers work. For one, we are facing a generation of adults who cannot properly install and configure the software that they need to install. We are also looking at a generation of adults who are unlikely to be able to overcome any computer problems that they encounter. This will mean an increasing dependence on computer firms and on other people, rather than being able to fix minor hardware and software problems themselves-even viruses will become a more serious problem.
Worst of all though, is the lack of schooling now available with regards to programming for software or for the web. Without a basic schooling in coding the foundations are missing for more advanced coding. This is already negatively starting to impact the gaming industry, who are struggling to meet the need for games programmers, and will hit other software industries just as badly.
Without the reintroduction of the basic coding skills in early education, we face a problematic gap in the skills set of our graduates. Giving your child the opportunity to practice basic coding at home may help, otherwise parents may wish to consider seeking computer classes for their children.