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Translate Your Child's Video Gaming to Coding Skills

February 25, 2014

By Amanda Gebhardt

Two kids smile as they play video games.

Most of our lives and livelihoods are run on code. Our phones, our computers, our tablets, even our cars all run on code.

As coding becomes the language of the future, experts worry that American school children are not learning to code. Women and girls especially are underrepresented in the technology fields and classes. With today’s emphasis on science and technology and making sure that the U.S. produces the next generation of technological leaders, gaming might just be the hook that reels your child into the tech world.

Over the years, after marrying a gamer and becoming a bit of one myself, I’ve grown to love video games and respect the art and craft that go into building such complex systems. In fact, the pure technological know-how that goes into even the most basic video game says a lot for the dedication and passion of those people who have made careers out of gaming.

If your child loves gaming, help steer that love into technical skills like coding and digital animation. Some of the most frequently used programming languages in game development are C++, C#, Java, and Flash. Other languages in high demand with employers are SQL, C, XML, HTML, JavaScript, Perl, and Python.

There are many free online resources out there where children can learn to code. Here are some of the best sites that can teach you and your child the basics of programming:

  • Code Academy. Code Academy offers after-school programming for children that provides an easy way to learn code through interactive and fun activities. 
  • Khan Academy. The learning site has a computer science division with lessons that can teach you and your child how to use the JavaScript language and the ProcessingJS library to create fun drawings and animations. 
  • Code.org. All ages can watch video tutorials on programming starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and other tech superstars, and even play games that will teach them the basics of coding.
  • Grok Learning. It offers, among other things, an introductory course about using Python for people with no programming experience, including high schoolers.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot about coding myself. The Visual Basic class I took in high school taught me about as much coding as my high school Spanish class taught me Spanish (thankfully I learned a bit more Spanish in college). Coders, though, are running the world, and any reason you can find that inspires your child to join their ranks might just be the thing that gets his or her future up and running.

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