We live in a world where the line between the education and technology industries is blurry. Debates continue to emerge about how much is too much tech in schools; parents still resist embracing technology for after-school instruction because they fear it may actually hamper their child’s growth.

No matter the debate, the edtech industry is thriving. There are apps, toys and other such gadgets all geared at training today’s students on all-things STEM. At the core of many of these STEM-centric lessons is one core competency: code.

Coding isn’t just for kids who are destined to be the next tech tycoon. In fact, it’s been said that introducing children to code helps teach critical problem-solving methods, creative thinking, and even communication skills.

Dr. James Gosling, Chief Software Architect at Liquid Robotics and creator of Javascript, agrees that code is not just something that programmers encounter.

According to Dr. Gosling, “The average person encounters Java every day, without knowing it. Java is in major e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay; it’s in the IT backbone of almost every financial institution, and in many more industries,” said Dr. Gosling. “It’s almost impossible to make a phone call or a non-cash financial transaction without some Java program being involved. Even when you tweet, you’re using Java.”

There’s really no such thing as being “too young to code.” In a recent Huffington Post article, experts drew similarities between writing music and writing lines of code, explaining that teaching music literacy to young children may be a useful primer on their journey to becoming a budding programmer. And on getting them started, Matt Wallaert, behavioral scientist at Bing, shared that one of the best first steps is for parents to learn alongside their children – it evens the playing field.

Beyond exploring the similarities between code and music, free tools like Scratch – from the bright minds over at MIT – allow kids to create and learn at their own pace, all on a simple interface. Scratch is good for anyone looking to learn how to code, and is especially useful for novices because of its drag-and-drop sequences.

Taking into consideration the breadth and availability of free coding resources, it’s clear that the benefits of teaching kids to code are too positive not to embrace.

Written by IEEE on August 20, 2015