Expert Editions vol 23 : How and why parents need to keep up with technology

parents need to keep up with technology

Does the world of technology baffle you? Are you constantly floundering around looking like an ignoramous in the face of the latest technological developments and “crazes” that your children seem to be masters of within a minute? Yes, as if we didn’t have enough on our plates in the challenge of parenting in this modern world, now we have technology to add to it.

If you’re wondering how the hell to get to grips with tech super highway, check out this in-conversation with Jordan Poulton of the Makers Academy, Europe’s leading Web Developer Bootcamp to find out how and why parents must keep up with technology in this installment of Expert Editions.

Why is it so important that parents stay on top of tech advances?

Firstly, let’s remember that it’s important for *people* to stay up to date with advancements in tech – parents and non-parents alike! In the 21st Century, technology forms the backbone of every industry, so not understanding tech means you don’t fully understand your own industry, or your own job. Even if you don’t use tech in your day-to-day work, it’s related to tech. Marc Andreeson was right when he said that ‘software is eating the world’. The demand for developers has been growing 20% YoY for over a decade, while the supply of developers has flatlined at 1% annual growth. This trend is set to continue for the foreseeable future, which means we should be encouraging young people into careers in tech. The more up to date parents can be with technology trends, the easier it will be to support and encourage their children’s interest in technology, to share their enjoyment of it, and to feel comfortable  learning alongside them.

In general, how can parents stay up to date on tech to better support their children and their progress?

How long have you got!? In terms of staying up to date, there are some great media outlets they can follow, like Wired, TechCrunch and Mashable. The best way to support children is to get involved and learn along with them – go on Codecademy and learn some basic coding skills.

Now can you give some specific ways parents can do this?

With Christmas approaching how about you  buy your daughter a Rasberry Pi for Christmas and try to build something together? Or encourage your son to spend as much time writing games as they do playing games, and maybe even consider learning to code yourself – there are some pretty good courses out there! If they’re already playing Minecraft they can start building python scripts to control the game.

What about tech-challenged parents who feel particularly intimidated?

Tech also has the power to help you bond with your child. If you are intimidated don’t be embarrassed and ask for help. First from your own children then from other parents.

The first thing to tell yourself is – it’s OK to feel intimidated. For non-technical people, the world of coding can be pretty overwhelming. It’s natural to be confused, but the only solution is to get stuck in and learn by doing. Do you remember when your child was learning to walk? How they had to start by crawling, then, after lots of attempts and failure, they could take a few steps with support, then all of a sudden it clicked? Coding is no different. It’s OK to crawl at the start. If you let go of your need to ‘get it’ immediately, and try to enjoy the state of not knowing and the process of learning through exploration and play, then you’ll start to relax and be able to really focus on learning without fear of failure.

Apart from being able to support children through their knowledge of technology, what are some of the other knock on benefits for parents?

Learning to code is really about learning to think, learning to structure your thoughts and learning to come up with logical solutions to problems. The skills you develop – deconstructing problems, pattern recognition, designing algorithmic solutions to problems, understanding layers of abstraction – all are super useful in any career, and just as useful in our day to day lives.

An example might help – you might find that one day your wi-fi signals are dropping. What do you do? Do you try figure out why? Maybe you move the router to a different location or adjust the wires, maybe you turn it on and off or test the signals on another device. Do you run mini experiments to find the source of the problem?

If you do that, you’re already deconstructing problems, looking for patterns, thinking about how to isolate variables and test solutions – coding is a lot like that.

If there is only one thing you could say to parents about keeping up to date with technology it would be…

Become code literate and develop computational thinking. You don’t need to become a coder but it helps to be able to understand the basics of code. Everyone knows that basic English and maths are essential skills.. In the 21st century, basic coding is as essential a skill as reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

Anything else to add?

We’ve had plenty of parents do the course at Makers Academy so if you’re wondering how it’s possible to juggle a family and intense course then have a read of our top tips by our parents here and here.

Are you concerned about staying up to date with technology as a parent? What do you think of the tips above? Do leave a comment and share.

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  1. I thought that I was quite clued up on technology until I started blogging and it turns out there is so much I don’t understand! It’s amazing how even my two year old can work technology, the fact he knows how to unlock my phone and put on a game leaves me astounded! I recently taught my 88 year old Nan how to send an email, she didn’t take to it all too well, I reckon Harry would have grasped it quicker!!
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