Coding clubs for children have been appearing in growing numbers. In a world increasingly driven by and bound to technology, there is growing interest in getting children educated in a STEM (and STEAM) track at a younger age. The increasing job opportunities alone have grown exponentially that it makes perfect sense. Parents want to encourage their child’s early interest in these fields, particularly coding. Any language — programming languages not withstanding — are learned best when the mind is young and capable of absorbing information quickly. In response to this, businesses that provide supplemental coding education have widened the age group to which they cater.
Coding Clubs Shifting to Younger Ages
Many kids coding clubs begin their youth programming around age seven, a time in a child’s life when the fundamentals of childhood development are in place. But some businesses have lowered their acceptance age to five. While on its surface it seems like an increased opportunity to get youth engaged with STEM, there is a downside. As businesses, these clubs have incentive to grow their enrollment. They do so by advertising classes that teach children to modify and code for popular video games like Roblox and Minecraft. It’s no surprise that these classes are always booked full.
But What About Screen-time?
There’s a serious downside to these classes with long lasting implications for childhood development: excessive screen time. Studies by Jama Pediatrics have correlated excess screen time with several negative developmental and physical side effects. The research suggests that development of interpersonal interaction and problem-solving skills can be slowed when a child is spending over an hour a day on their devices.
Over-saturation at a young age can distract from burgeoning critical thinking skills; the young brain craves a singular task that it can plod through one step at a time. Having a plethora of games and apps on a tablet or phone provides more distraction than is helpful. It encourages multitasking at a stage where a child should be single-minded in their play and efforts. It also diminishes concentration, giving the child the option to give up on a difficult problem and switch to something else.
More time behind the screen also means less time talking to their family and spending time in cooperative play. From ages two to six, children begin to learn how to read facial expressions, interact, and develop empathy for others. The only way to do so is through direct connection with other human beings of varying ages and social styles. Time taken away from these crucial interactions can have a lasting hindrance on a child’s ability to be comfortable connecting with others.
It isn’t just the time that a child spends on a computer at a kids coding club that creates this problem. Increased screen time throughout their day compounds with the time that they spend in that setting. When met with an educational environment that uses video games as the medium for learning, it encourages children to pursue and practice those skills outside of the classroom. It’s not about the hour they spend in a learning environment, but the additional hours outside of it that they are engaged with technology and not other aspects of learning, play, and development.
Meet KIBO, a Screen-free Alternative for Coding Clubs
There are coding toys available designed to approach a precise issue: How do we teach young people about coding fundamentals while giving them a fertile environment for other aspects of their growth? Enter KIBO, a screen-less way to engage and learn. Using programmable wooden building blocks that can be placed and manipulated to create sequences that will direct a robot’s movements, it addresses a growing understanding of technology’s impact on childhood development and allowing us to rethink the amount of time children interface with computers.
KIBO teaches programming fundamentals in a healthy, balanced way. While KIBO, primarily found in schools due to its unique ability to educate and break down complex ideas through play and without the use of computer screens, it is also available to parents and interest clubs. KIBO is pioneering a new generation of coding toys stemming from years of research and development and the study of technology on our youth. As such, it represents an improved curriculum that engages children without the harmful effects of traditional technology. As kids coding clubs, extra-curricular activities, and storefront coding opportunities continue to grow in popularity and increase in revenue, now more than ever there is a need for decreasing screen-time among today’s youth without giving up the educational opportunities it presents.
KIBO, the learning robot designed specifically for kids, offers an inviting, engaging platform for young children to start their journey into creating with code in a fun and creative way. KIBO’s block-based coding language gives children control over the robot’s movements, sounds, and sensors, allowing them to express their imaginations with code. The KIBO curriculum for educators also teaches children to tell stories, create characters, and explore the world around them through code. KIBO is the number one choice in screen-free coding for kids – trusted by more parents and schools to introduce today’s youth to the wonders of technology and robotics.