Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Oct. 19, 2015

What Kids Can Do With Code

Staff Assistant, Family Online Safety Institute

The call for coding in schools has grown exponentially in the last few years. The biggest reason behind this push is that coding opens up a lot of opportunities for recent grads or for those looking to switch careers. In fact, Bloomberg Business reports that those certified in coding report an average of $23,000 salary increase from before learning the skill. But is there more to coding? A recent study by FOSI and Intel Security reveals what kids want to get out of coding and points to what we should be doing to help them.

This past May, FOSI partnered with Intel Security in a study to look at what teens are doing online and what parents know and feel about it. The research project, entitled “The Realities of Cyber Parenting: What Pre-Teens and Teens Are Up to Online,” surveyed more than 17,000 parents and their kids ages 8 to 16 from all over the world and one of the topics we covered was kids’ thoughts on coding. 

What Youth Think of Coding 

Sixty percent of kids say that they are interested in studying computer software development to learn to program new mobile apps and websites. In fact, 41% of those kids say that they hope it will help them to have a career in the future. When asked what kids would use their cyber skills for, 64% said for protecting individuals’ money and privacy from being stolen by cybercriminals, 50% said protecting companies from cyber criminals, 43% said protecting people’s safety from attacks from terrorists, and 33% said for protecting their country from attacks from other countries. 

The issues identified here are real issues that the world is currently facing or will soon face. The fact that kids ages 8 to 16 recognize these as items they would like to address with skills they would like to learn means that we are doing something right in raising the next generation. But more importantly, it means that we ought to provide our youth with the tools to obtain these skills. And yet only 39% of children report learning these skills in school. Thirty five percent of them learn on their own and 16% take courses online. In which case, more teens are looking for this information on their own than have it provided to them by their school. Providing kids with the necessary education will allow them to become an integral part of solving the issues that we currently face.

Parents Weigh in on Coding

The study also shows that parents agree! Eighty nine percent of the parents find it important or very important that their kids receive online safety or cyber security training in the next 2-5 years to keep their personal information and themselves protected. Many parents believe that their kids can find the information they want and learn more skills on their own. (Fifty nine percent of the parents who don’t discuss the risks of social media with their child indicate that they assume that their child(ren) know what they are doing. And 71% of the parents say that their child is more social media savvy than they are.) Yet, parents still call for some implementation of formal training. 

Both children and parents alike recognize the need to gain these important technological skills. So what all that is left is to provide the education necessary to gain them. 

Image Courtesy of Flickr.