As we enter the 2020s, it is arguably more important than never for kids to grow up with a certain level of education in tech. That’s not to say children should necessarily be inundated with technology too early or too often. But it’s undeniable at this point that the more tech-savvy someone is, the more opportunities and hobbies that person will have at his or her disposal moving forward. With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at some of the tech (and tech-adjacent) skills young people would do well to learn today.
Skill 1. Computer Code
A lot of kids today start learning some of the basics of computer coding at a fairly young age. In fact, there are quite a few books and computer courses specifically designed to teach coding in simple, kid-friendly ways not unlike how we teach early math or grammatical skills. It’s terrific that there are options like this, though we’d emphasize that it’s important for kids to stick with their coding education and develop a high level of proficiency. Simply put, learning the fundamentals of coding has benefits in the modern world even for those who don’t want to be engineers. It can make a person more self-sufficient in the online world, teach valuable thinking skills, and boost career potential.
Skill 2. Podcasting
Podcasting is something that’s catching on with regard to seemingly every conceivable topic. We’ve covered the best podcasts for mompreneurs before, but beyond relatively niche subjects like this there are innumerable podcasts out there for everything from sports, to comedy, to financial management, to romance, and so on. Accordingly, more and more people are launching their own podcasts, to the point that it’s almost reminiscent of the days when personal blogs first became prominent. Podcasting is not a wildly advanced technological skill, but good sound and production value do require a little bit of know-how. Kids who learn the process early will be well-positioned to take advantage of this increasingly significant trend and launch their own podcasts, whether for personal or business interests.
Starting a Podcast does not have to be expensive but the tech can be upgraded over time. All you need to start is a good microphone and a podcasting service.
Skill 3. Circuit Board Design
For the truly tech-oriented young people out there, circuit board design can be a fascinating skill to learn — and one that can result in a genuinely improved understanding of our device-driven world. This is a complex topic to dive into, but thanks in part to modern software programs that facilitate design, it can be approached in a step-by-step manner. Learning the different circuit board parts in a standard PCB can make for a good starting point, after which one can learn about basic assembly. From there, a curious young person can begin to develop an understanding of how increasingly complex printed circuit boards are designed, and how they make various electronics work. In some cases this can lead to relevant job skills; in others, it can just result in a deeper fluency with modern tech.
Skill 4. Cloud Computing
Cloud use might be the single broadest topic on this list when it’s all said and done. However, this one is less about interest and more about developing an important skill for navigating the modern world. Right now, most adults who use technology on a regular basis are aware of basic cloud functions. However, the ins and outs of cloud use — where digital information is stored, how it can be accessed, how to secure one option versus another, and so on — are more important to understand by the day. Education in the basics of cloud computing is, therefore, a must for young people coming up into the world today.
Skill 5. Document & Spreadsheet Proficiency
Finally, it would also be a good idea for young people today to educate themselves on document and spreadsheet navigation (essentially, digital office suite use), and to go beyond the basics. Plenty of kids learn how to use programs like Word, Pages, Google Docs, Excel, and Google Sheets at one point or another. But really understanding these programs and others like them can unlock a lot of doors. Even learning some hidden gems and hacks to increase productivity in these tools. These programs should be treated as tools for document creation, data collection, and more — and proficiency using those tools can result in everything from better personal organization to more job opportunities.
Kids today would do well to learn plenty more tech skills than these. Some might argue, for instance, that learning how to build an app should be on this list, or that blockchain navigation is now as important as any topic discussed here. The options above, however, can speak to a combination of interest, opportunity, and the basic need to keep up with the times. All in all, it’s a collection of ideas that speak to the breadth of tech learning opportunities there are for young people today.