We are at an age where technology is indispensable part of our life. Children as young as 6 months start watching mobiles, television, i-pad, and at the age of 2 years they are already mobile savvy.
Tech knowledge does not end with just knowing how to operate a mobile or other gadgets. After learning how to use it, the next obvious step is how to develop the content, such as applications, games etc., for gadgets. These days, at the age of 5 years, children are learning to code.
Can children learn coding?
While children at the age of 5 years are still learning to communicate their thoughts, are exposed to learn coding. Yes, no doubt children have a very good grasping and learning capabilities, but how good is it to enrol them for coding classes at the age of 5 years?
In conversation with News4children, Dr Meena Gnanasekharan, MD, DABPN, child and adult psychiatrist at Reach Psychiatry and Counselling Centre, says, “Yes, definitely a child can learn coding. It improves their brain development. Certain children have the aptitude to learn and they should be encouraged to learn coding. At a young age they are still learning, but few children are capable of learning to code. It’s like only certain children can start reading at the age of 4 and 5. Most of the kids start reading much later.”
With children already loaded with school activities, parents may feel that sending children at an early age to code is burdening or pressurising them to learn. However, there is no right or wrong age to start to learn coding, reiterates Dr Meena.
“It all depends on the child. Start with the child thinking that they have high IQ and expose them to other things. If the child is capable of assimilating and doing a variety of things, then you can expose them to coding, and see if they are interested. It’s no different than doing a puzzle,” she adds.
Will coding add on to screen time and miss out social life
Screen time is another big worry all parents face in this tech age. Children are glued to mobile, TV, tab, etc. Will focussing to coding add on to their screen time and miss out on play time?
Keerthi. D, who has done her MA in psychology, mother of 10 year old, says, “I enrolled my son to karate when he was 2 years old. I encourage him to be in sports rather than sitting in front of the system and code.”
“No doubt their IQ and logical reasoning improves but their emotional quotient takes a back seat. They need outside exposure to socialise and be creative rather than taking extra coding classes after school hours,” feels Keerthi.
Dharshini mother of 7 year old, expressed the same concern about children getting addicted to coding and missing out on social life.
However, Dr Meena says if it’s closely monitored by parents, things wont go wrong. “Screen time is recreational activity. Where as coding is not recreational screen time. Children are learning and it can be looked at as work time. It has to be balanced with other activities. After coding if they move on to other things without parental supervision, thats when the problem starts. There is nothing wrong as long as it is controlled and within limits with parental supervision,” adds Dr Meena.
“American Paediatrics Academy recommends general screen time of 2 hours over the weekend and no screen time during weekdays,” she adds.
Coding improves child development and analytical skills
With ever booming tech-based jobs, the top three skills predicted by 2016 World Economic Forum are Complex Problem-Solving, Critical Thinking and Creativity.
This indeed has questioned the existing school curriculum, as it does not meet the needs of the industry. Hence, we have many institutes springing up offering coding courses streamlined with the future technology trends. After school hours children take these online courses or attend summer camps to learn the coding language.
“Coding indeed helps in improving brain development. It’s nothing different from mathematics. It’s like stimulating them in different ways. Anything analytical is good for children and coding falls in that category. It improves their attention span and perseverance. Simple analogy is its just like maths,” says Dr Meena
Talking about whether it is a good idea to send children for coding classes after school hours, Dr Meena said, “There is not hard and fast rule. It has to work for your child. Every child is different and should have separate development plan.”
“Not every child can go learn coding after school. If it fits that child needs and if that child develops better, and works into the overall schemes of that child’s development, thats great. If not a child should not be forced,” Dr Meena added.
In the future, Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning taking over the job market, learning to code may become indispensable.
Currently, we are also witnessing many software engineers burning out and switching careers. It’s definitely a catch 22 situation for parents whether to enrol children for coding or not.
Speaking about would children burn out faster, Dr Meena says, “If you are interested in something you wont burn out unless stress is associated with that. If it becomes a burden, they burn out. It is not because they start early. I would compare coding with reading. If interested in reading, you never burnout. You enjoy reading.”
Check this link below to enrol for coding summer camp : https://www.codingwithkids.com/india/summer-camps