Opinion: It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about tech careers
My wife gave birth to our first child just 11 weeks ago. So along with all the other worries, doubts, and the “Oh my god, I have no idea what I am doing” feelings that come with being a new parent, I am anxious about the future and the world in which my daughter will…
My wife gave birth to our first child just 11 weeks ago. So along with all the other worries, doubts, and the “Oh my god, I have no idea what I am doing” feelings that come with being a new parent, I am anxious about the future and the world in which my daughter will grow up.
I am part of what they call the “Oregon Trail Generation.”
Born between the late 70s and mid-80s, the Oregon Trail generation got this title because we grew up playing that classic game on Apple 2Es in our schools’ computer labs. As a group, we are not quite Millennials, but we also are not quite Gen X. Some would say we have the best and/or worst qualities of our more recognizable bookends. I think we’re pretty great, but I am a little biased.
As an Oregon Trail-er, I am part of the last generation that will remember a time before easily accessible technology. However, my daughter will never know what it is like not to have the promises and dangers of unlimited information available to her at the flick of a touchscreen. As such, it is my job to help her understand technology and prepare her for the ever-changing technological landscape that will be part of her future.
It is no secret that technology is the fuel for tomorrow’s economy. A recent article on Yahoo! Finance lists IT technicians and developers as one of the top 5 jobs that will exist in 2040. Yet, as evident as it seems, it is essential for parents of today’s infants, children, and adolescents, to understand this trend’s implications. Critical and creative thinkers that know how to code will be the architects of the future. Therefore, we must help our children learn and understand the importance of having a solid technical foundation.
If you are a parent of a daughter like me, this is doubly important. Currently, only 26% of technology workers are women, and that number doesn’t seem to be getting better. For whatever reason, technology just doesn’t seem cool to girls. In fact, girls who are not interested in technology before entering middle school are significantly less likely to pursue a career in tech. So we need to start early and build excitement when and where we can.
The advantages of a career in technology are well documented. Currently, a person working in tech makes, on average, almost twice the amount as a person in a non-tech job. As the world becomes more automated and relies even more on technology, this gap will continue to grow.
Fortunately, there are many resources available to assist parents in their efforts to spark an interest in technology. Just last night, I read Blockchain for Babies to my daughter. We also have the HTML for Babies and Robotics for Babies. While these are overly simplistic, they do a good job of outlining the general concepts.
However, you don’t have to use books. There are thousands of other free resources available if you just look. For example, CODE.org has fun activities that help develop computer and coding skills, as does santatracker.google.com. But these are just a couple of the high-quality tech teaching aids available to you and your children. Spend an hour or two looking at what is available both locally and online to find something that might help turn your children into creators of technology, not just consumers of it.
Don’t get me wrong; it is critical to encourage your children to do the things in life that make them happy and support their dreams. Additionally, sports, dance, music, or other typical youth-centric activities are important for a child’s development. However, as parents, we wield significant influence. We can help expose our children to experiences that could spark a lifetime interest. We just need to include tech experiences in our activities rotation.
If we do this, our kids will thank us in about 20 – 25 years—maybe even as they build the latest iteration of Oregon Trail.
Born and raised in Texas, Jonathan Holland is a non-profit executive with the AIM Institute in Omaha, Nebraska. Jonathan currently serves as the Sr. Director of Development and oversees Silicon Prairie News’s business operations. Jonathan has a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management from the University of Houston – Downtown and is a current student in the Interdisciplinary Leadership Doctoral program at Creighton University. Jonathan is married to his wife, Rebecca, and they have one daughter, Jocelyn.
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