If you want your younger child to learn to code, consider buying a robot or a video game. Entrepreneurs are designing coding toys for children as young as six. They’re doing it to get kids interested in computer science before they are influenced about what is cool and not cool to be interested in.
In particular, girls are a focus of these toys. The more girls get interested in computer science from an early age, the better chance there is that they will work in computer science as adults. As girls age, they become less and less likely to participate in coding and computer science activities.
Trainers from DevelopIntelligence explain that some people think that giving kid’s technology too early can interfere with their development and that kids need to create directly from their imaginations. Other critics feel that saddling kids with advanced concepts too early can frustrate them and make them dislike computer science – exactly the opposite intention of coding-focused toys.
Across the country, however, computer literacy is an area of intense focus. Entrepreneurs are cashing in on the computer science concentration. One such business owner is Vikas Gupta, who runs Wonder Workshop, which produces the programmable robots Dash and Dot. Kids can draw a path for Dash and make him do different actions, such as flash its lights or beep.
Kids who are more advanced coders can play with Google’s Blockly language, or Wonder, the company’s own programming language. This allows them to create and play with robots from both businesses.
The focus of these toys is to get kids interested in how things work by creating more difficult directions that are fun and intuitive.
One benefit of coding toys, particularly robots, is that children can see the robots move according to the instructions they give them. The immediate response to their instructions is motivating for children.
Coding toys are new, though, and there isn’t any research on whether they will create interest in coding or computer science over the long haul. There is also no information on how they affect brain development.