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I don't have kids, but I do have a 3-year-old nephew whose brain his parents allow me to tinker with from time-to-time.

My approach was to go to Home Depot and buy a bunch of pipes, connectors, hoses, valves, etc. and have him play with it in my back yard. Here's a photo of him playing "pipes":

My nephew playing "pipes"

Here's my rationale:

  • The control and flow of water not only teaches fluid-dynamics but also sets him up with an intuitive understanding of how electricity flows.
  • I got him a limited number of connectors and pipes, so he is forced to learn to solve problems within constraints.
  • He runs into seemingly intractable problems that I only occasionally step in and help him with, the most common being related to pressure when he wants to add a sprinkler to the top of a vertical pipe. When he's older, I'll teach him the math he needs to understand the interactions of things like pressure and gravity.
  • He loves arching or wiggling jets of water, both of which are good setups for trigonometry and velocity equations.

If he wants to learn to code one day, his uncle will teach him in an afternoon. Right now, I want him to develop an intuition for how the physical world works...and be a kid at the same time.

 

I love everything about this! Maybe bring me some pipes and valves to play with some time? :)

 
 

My son is a little over a year, and the mobile phone is a magnetic for him. Could be related that we use it quite a lot 😁.

We try to motivate him to play with other stuff, because the impressions of the world you get by swiping are really limited.
We try to minimize any screen time. (He'll have plenty early enough)

So atm we are kind of removing technology from the equation, to try to inspire him to play with "boring" stuff where you train imagination.

There is still a lot time left to train him to become a zombie in front of a screen 😇

 

What a subject to talk about on Father’s Day! My kids are growing up with technology around them with Apple TV, iPad (long defunct due to an accident with a marmite jar), iPhones, and laptop / desktop. We do limit the screen time as much as we can and send them to play outside, riding bikes, beaches, sports. Gaming is a big part of it all and recently have to teach about team work.

Now excuse me, I think my kids wants me to play Portal 2. Now that’s a game teaching physics...

 
 

I have a 5-year-old. Using touchscreen comes "naturally" by playing games or watching cartoons on Ipad, or using my phone.
But I hate when she tries to use a laptop screen as it is a touchscreen :D
I haven't taught using keyboard and mouse much yet though I should probably. She does some typing occasionally, which also helped a bit with learning letters and reading. And this game is fun and helps to learn how to use a mouse and understand a bit of English.

She also visits the robotics lessons where they build stuff with Lego education sets.

 

This is interesting. Maybe new generations won't use the old fashioned keyboard/mouse prefirerals.

 

You want them to use a keyboard and mouse. While other input systems are being developed, the keyboard is by far the most necessary for work and interactive literacy. As much as you may be hearing otherwise, programming is usually done by keyboard and fancy forums of interaction are more tiring, less accurate and less efficient.

 
 

In terms of tech in general

I like to ask my son (9 yrs) how he thinks things work and how they are made; his favorite video game, tv, how we send each other messages and emojis. I also ask him who he thinks makes things in tech.

Sometimes I ask him to explain to me or teach me something and that generates a good exploratory conversation. Other questions I ask him about tech are on how they affect our lives, do they make it better or easier, etc.

In terms of coding specifically:

At ngVikings, Jeff Whelpley and his daughter Mady gave a really great talk on their app that is built on top of Blockly.

During this talk he mentions how using teaching for visual learners also really works well on kids. He also gave an outline and timeline on how he got his daughter to be the awesome hacker she is today.

He started with the low-level fundamentals and only 1 concept per week:

Week 1: Intro to coding

Week 2: Variables

Week 3: Functions

Week 4: Conditionals

Week 5: Loops

Week 6: Object

The example Mady gave of each fundamental were really good, so I used them with my son. For example, variables are just boxes that have a name and that you can put anything into and functions are recipes, etc.

Lastly, remember to continue to limit tech and scope and scale up as your child becomes more and more enthusiastic / skilled.

 

Oh my kids, 3 (almost) and 5, both have Kindle fire 8 tablets. They are getting proficient with a touchscreen.

I highly recommend some of the games like The Furchester Hotel in the CBeebies Playtime app. bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/watch/furcheste...

 

You won't have to worry about touch screen proficiency, designers work to make touch ui intuitive, at least to a degree. What you will have far more trouble with is teaching how these systems actually work. They will need to learn computer use, not just phone games.

 

There are some concerns about the exposure of children to screens.

Somebody told me that the rich people from the tech world (like Bill Gates, etc...) don't allow they children to use screen devices at all. I wonder if that's true.

I like more those toys that teach to code, but I think it is for 3+ years plus.

In the meanwhile, there is no play like a ball.

They need to go outside and learn how the world works, before starting to understand the information on it.

My advice is to stimulate them to read books first.

 

+++! For the ball, hand, body, eye coordination is very important. Additionally keep an eye on actual literacy and writing as a physical skill. I view reading off of tablets regularly as ok, but in addition to other physically interactive things. Note that eink displays are better for eye strain and backlit displays (regular screens) should not be used at night as they affect sleep cycles.

 

They teach themselves when they steal my wife’s iPhone. My phone is off bounds. :)

My kids are very young now. In the future I hope to expose them to more tech but with good boundaries.

It’s sad here in Japan. I have kids at my university that can barely type. So I will try to help my kids a lot.

 

(Not a parent, but an uncle to many.)

I think teaching kids how to use technology, as long as you do it with them and not just leave it in front of them (especially anything connected to the Internet) is very important as it will undoubtedly make up a large part of their lives, but it's not everything. I saw a video a while back of a child trying to pinch and swipe on a book - most people thought that was cute and endearing whereas I found it disturbing.

I think I am deeply worried about Gen Z's relationship with the Internet most of all. Social media cannot possibly be healthy for still-developing minds, especially Snapchat and Instagram that instil total falsehoods about everyday lifestyles and body image and I further suspect that they breed narcissistic behaviours with camera filters that encourage taking selfies.

They think I'm a dinosaur. Perhaps they're right.

 

We don't go out of our way to teach them how to use our devices. If they have a problem or are curious, they ask and we answer.

We try as much as possible to discourage them from using our devices, which is harder to do when she wants to play a switch game.

 

Both mine (4 and 7) intermittently enjoy scratch junior and the robot navigation problem solving type of games. Also love typing, augmented reality and simple free VR on Google cardboard.

But it all comes in small amounts of time, I was always (still am) very bad at stopping when the fun stopped! So trying to teach the ability to leave off after a while.

 

I have 2 boys, 8 and 11 yo. i haven´t started yet with coding - even though i often thought about buying some of these toys where you configure the movements with coding.. Our tech approach with them is getting them involved in many things we do that are somehow tech related.
Using word-execel-powerpoint for the projects at school, photo editing and composition for our travel photobook, very simple video editing for short movies and stop motion ( with lego or playmobil or playdough).
A few times i played with them with Scratch and i was with the bigger one at a Scratch Meetup/Dojo.

It is not yet very structured but we try to do lots of things that make fun and let us be together.

( actually i need to finish a post about all this, which i have in draft since months..)

 

My step-kid is only 4, but loves robots, so for his birthday this past year I got him a robot that he can build and rebuild and whatever. We're also a music family, so I picked up a Tech Will Save Us electro-dough kit that's a huge hit.

We also watch Reboot, which was my partner's and my favorite show when we were kids, and I'm beginning to regret it.

 

My 4yo has a Kindle Fire and an Echo for for kids. I didn't have to "teach" him anything on the Fire. I just unlocked it and let him have at it. Funny thing: He stole the device password after watching me enter it a few times. I guess I wasn't as secretive about it as I thought.

I did have to change the wake word on the Echo for Kids and set a time limit on it so he wouldn't chatter at it constantly.

I'm convinced that the test of good UI is whether or not a four year old could figure it out in 5 minutes or less.

 

My 7 year-old and I watched the Wired quantum computing introductory video a few times - at least up to the point where it gets very complicated.

She has a Chromebook from school and an iPad with games and stuff - the laptop stays at school and the iPad is only available in weekends and holidays. There is a spare macbook air in the house so we will probably make it available for her and her younger siblings this summer.

 

My step son is 8 and have introduced him to coding through scratch. It kept him occupied for a bit but not sure if it really clicked. Have also shown him games I played as a kid which amazes him. He really struggles to imagine a time when touch screens did not exist.

 

I have a 3 and 6 year old and it's impossible to push the 'Tech in Moderation' line when both parents and a live-in grandparent work from home in IT. As they see it, computers and other devices are a part of work and home life. We play games with them and video chat with family members. It has our grocery lists and our photos and our games.

My 6 year old has a strong understanding of what's appropriate for him and what's for 'big kids'. He moderates (read: Narcs) on his 3 year old brother when the YouTube videos get weird. And he knows how to interact with other kids online (be kind, be sensitive, no personal information, stop screaming). It's the same sort of boundaries he's learning in People Space. We just try not to treat The Computer People as any less suspect as a stranger or any less worth basic manners.

 

My daughter is almost 12, and I've tried to encourage her to get into coding, but she's not having it.

She likes video games and iPhones and things with bluetooth, though.

 

My eldest is almost 4 and using our phone (to watch TV) is a special treat (being well behaved, helping with jobs around the house, that kind of thing). We don't have an iPad or Netflix or anything like that so so he's probably less exposed than most people.

Instead, his exposure to tech is more at the computer front. He's got a toy laptop (VTech one) with some games that he plays with while sitting at the desk with me. I've also got a Cozmo robot that he like to play with (but more pushing it around the floor than anything!) and he's trying to talk to the Google Home but has little success with that! 🤣

I was talking to a colleague about teaching kids coding, they said that one approach is to remove the computer from it and get kids to write down instructions for a parent to do, "Stand on 1 foot", "Jump", "Take 5 steps" and then introduce loops "Do it 3 times". I'm waiting to my boys are a bit older and then we'll see if we can't try that out as a bit of a game.

 

Technology education in public schools is very important to me, and I'm grateful that my son (who's in 1st grade) goes to an elementary school with a solid tech program.

I remember when I toured his school, I was drooling over the computers they get to use because they were machines I could only dream of owning.

At home I plan to start taking the technology education he receives at school and teaching him about responsible web usage and all that stuff, which I view as my responsibility, not his school's.

I also like to teach him about the joy of technology. One of the things I've done in the past that I really enjoyed was coding a CLI that would respond when he typed his name and would tell him funny jokes.

He wants his own computer, so I promised him that if he learned to read by the time he got to first grade, we'd build a computer together and I'd start teaching him to code. He crushed that goal, so I'm looking forward to doing that with him over the summer.

 

My daughter is 7, she's pretty cool with tech. She's had an iPad since a young age, she has an iPhone which is in flight mode, it's basically an iPod and she has a smart TV.

She has no Aerial in her TV and we have parental controls on Now TV & Prime, so anything above a PG requires a PIN. She also has Netflix and she knows not to ever go into Daddy's user account, so again she's restricted.

She has Kids' YouTube, I've hidden Safari on her i devices, only I can download stuff and I also blacklisted it, in the parental control settings.

Education is key, we've spoke at length about some dangers and what kind of things aren't appropriate etc. She knows to report anything to me, instantly or I zap her devices off the router.

She also has an Alexa, she asks for the clean version of everything and if she hears a swear, she tells her to 'shut up' immediately.

It's a tricky one, we know how important it is not to get left behind, yet we also understand the dangers, so I opted for controlled freedom, she has gadgets, she totally understands the reasons why I restrict things and she feels protected.

She'd love a YouTube type blog, to talk about dolls, fashion and music. YouTube has far too many trolls and bullies, I'm gonna sit with her and make a micro blog, so she can upload the occasional video, on the condition that once per month, she does a video about internet safety, for other kids.

As she gets older, we could add comment systems, newsletters or whatever.

I reckon it's a winner, she learns what I do, she teaches others and feels like she's famous, if she gets a few likes (which I could boost up in the DB 😁)

 

My boys 13 & 8 yo play a bit too much at times. When my oldest needed a laptop for school in addition to the iPad that Middle School required, my idea of no electronics in the bedroom kind of died. I like them to do physical things as well, play something other than iPad/phone games or Roblox which seems to be their new passion. I have tried logic, coding games like Robot Turtle in the past. That worked well.

I have sent them to after school coding classes, made comments about how they could make their own games if they enjoy "that" game so much. At times those comments fall on deaf ears. I push them as much as I can, and pull some outside activities as well - my oldest is in Boy Scouts and I have become my youngest son's Cub Scout Master and they do like the camp outs, plus the Merit Badges require work to complete. So they get additional exposure to things that peak an interest, and the work makes them have to really get into a subject and no superficially.

When I can include tech I do, when it gets an eye roll I stop.

 

I take my kid to work and show him how we help people find the best caterers for them.

We sit together and write code. He is still on the fence though as he has multiple interests.

But he is always suprise's me and ends up showing me something new.

 
 

My kids are 2 and 4. I try to explain to them what I’m doing when they ask. We also purchased codeapillar. They are both pretty good with an iPad already :)

 

Well, there's a reason I'm not posting as much - five months into fatherhood. At the moment she regards all technology as something she can stick in her mouth and drool over. Gets it from me.

Classic DEV Post from May 31

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Presentation Tips for Technical Talks

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