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The past couple of decades have seen digital tools develop and become fully integrated into our way of life. As such, many of the careers which are relevant both now and for the foreseeable future will be heavily invested in technology.
This is an important factor to remember when helping your teenager to find their own path in life. It’s only natural that you want to help them to discover skills and interests that can provide them with a solid footing as they move toward adulthood. Among the most relevant and enriching tech-based areas that you can introduce them to at the moment are web design and computer science.
That said, while you might agree that these are interesting, it isn’t always positive or effective to railroad your teenager toward these types of subjects. So, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can gently introduce your teen to computer science and web design to spark their curiosity.
Explore the Nuances
One of the first roadblocks to overcome when introducing your teen to computer science and web design is reputation. For students who aren’t already drawn to these areas, the titles can evoke dull, rather studious images. Yet, there is so much that is fascinating in both of these areas that their titles don’t really do justice to. The devil is in the details. As such, part of introducing your teen to these subjects is helping them to explore the nuances.
This begins with research. From the perspective of web development, there is a rabbit hole to go down in terms of how the processes are undertaken. For more artistic and design inclined teenagers, it can be smart to research and discuss the activities involved in front-end web development. Talk through the details of what contributors to this field actually do. Look at how they use programming languages to support the artistic and design aspects of websites and landing pages. Explore the tools they use, like content management systems (CMS). The key is to show them that this area is not just reliant upon purely technical abilities. But rather the application of their skills to effectively use tech tools that help to boost their creative ideas.
Where computer science is concerned, there’s a lot more to explore. Simply telling teenagers that it is essentially the study of how systems work — from a theoretical, practical, and experimental standpoint — can be an abstract concept. They may quickly lose interest. Instead, seek to learn together how the concepts of computer science impact real life. This can be particularly useful when applied to areas they’re already interested in. Watching YouTubers that explore the field, like Computerphile, can help them become familiar with computer science concepts, and how they apply to projects such as video games. This can also introduce them to the active do-it-yourself ethos of the field, encouraging them to participate in creative and interesting ways.
Discuss Career Paths
The truth is, there is a huge variety of career paths that both web design and computer science can open doors to. This can be both overwhelming and provide a positive sense of opportunity. Programming is a good example here, as there is some overlap between the various fields, and it can be helpful to work with your teen to understand what the different roles can entail. Web development is more than just the aforementioned front-end aspect, there are also back-end contributors that are more technically oriented. These developers deal with the infrastructure of the website. Software development, on the other hand, is a more analytical and problem-solving field that requires knowledge of various programming languages to create software that meets specific needs.
Sometimes the best way to go here is to talk about the kind of environment that your teen is interested in working in, rather than just the role itself. Both web design and computer science can take place in various types of space. If they are keen to work independently, perhaps while they travel, being a freelance web designer can be a good option. Equally, they can also work in-house for large corporations. Computer science can take place in laboratory research environments, or even in ecommerce spaces — Amazon has a program that funds computer science degrees. Alternatively, they could be building apps as part of their own start-up. Showing them how these subjects can help them to connect to their ideal workspace and atmosphere can be key to holding their interest.
Engage with Courses and Events
Apart from anything else, it is so important to show teens that computer science and web design have vibrant communities. It’s difficult to become fully engaged if they can’t see that they can be part of something fascinating and — ultimately — rewarding. One of the most effective ways to do this is to help them get involved in courses and events.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they need to attend additional schooling outside of their already packed schedule. Rather, there are many online courses, particularly in web design that your teen can follow at their own pace. These introduce them to the fundamental principles in the field and take them gradually through technical elements like HTML and Java programming using practical exercises and projects. These often provide certifications that can also look good on a resume. Though they’re self-driven, some elearning courses also encourage peer communication through message boards, which can give them a social element too.
When it comes to computer science, there is an increasing number of events and competitions that can fuel your teen’s enthusiasm. Hacker conferences are not spaces for illegal activities but rather a community event to discuss programming and cybersecurity and engage in hackathons that are both fun and help to build skills. For younger teens, robotics competitions like FIRST can see them working in teams, learning both practical and exciting applications for programming concepts.
Introducing your teenager to computer science or web design can set them off on an enriching path. Helping them gain a better understanding of what these fields mean is the first step toward helping them engage. However, by exploring potential careers and getting involved in courses and events, you can show them how these subjects can positively influence their life.