Oh, to be a child again! The endless curiosity, the unbridled excitement, and the often fearless attitude toward trying new things. What better time to introduce technology? We are all jealous of how quickly kids pick up new technology, but how can we help them become an expert and continue that passion? Whether you have kids of your own, extended family, or volunteer at an organization with young adults; the odds are pretty good that you are influencing the life of at least one child. Put that influence to good work!
Here are 7 tips for fostering a love of tech in the lives of young adults you know:
1. Encourage their questions.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
It seems that children’s questions are limitless. We are all familiar with the endless cycle of, “But WHY?” and it has annoyed us at least once or twice. It turns out “why?” can be legitimately difficult to answer! One of the best ways to encourage kids to learn technology is to welcome those questions and help them discover the answers for themselves. While we don’t suggest using “let me Google that for you,” we do recommend putting your knowledge to good use by helping them set up a lab environment or experimenting with the tech to find the answer!
2. Fuel their passion.
“Passion is what gets you through the hardest times that might otherwise make strong men weak, or make you give up.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
If you’re a programmer, you might want your protégé to similarly love coding. While that may happen (and the chances are good!), it may turn out they want to be a network engineer. (*GASP!*) Remember to fuel their passion. They must forge their own path, and along the way, you will be learning too! You never know, you might uncover a new passion of your own in the process!
3. Model a love of learning.
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” – James Baldwin
If you take your training seriously, it won’t go unnoticed. It’s one thing to talk big about lifetime learning, but it’s another to demonstrate it. If you aren’t currently training, get to it! If you are, share what you’ve learned with the kids in your life. If teaching someone else is the epitome of subject mastery, then teaching a child may be doubly so! After all, as Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Then reverse the tables and have them teach you what they’re learning! A child’s enthusiasm burns bright when they get to share the things they’re learning and have an attentive audience.
4. Do projects with them.
“Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.” – Dale Carnegie
There is nothing quite like having a friend or mentor come alongside you and creating something together. Whether that’s building a PC, setting up a network, programming a game, bringing a robot to life, or even creating an animated short — there is no doubt that the time and effort you put in will be looked back on with fond appreciation.
5. Let them struggle.
“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill
It might not be a popular opinion, but as IT experts we all know that a little struggle can be good for the soul. In fact, most people working in technology fields wouldn’t be where they are today if they hadn’t toiled hours, wrestled with new concepts, and eventually emerged victorious. Technology isn’t always easy to use, but when you have that “Ah-HA!” moment, the reward is well worth it. So while we don’t recommend leaving them in frustration, letting youngsters develop a level of self-sufficiency in their learning will help them later on!
6. Get them involved in tech clubs.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford
There is nothing quite like having a community of learners to help encourage you to dream big and accomplish new things. There are many technology-focused youth programs popping up today. Not only would they love to have more participants, but they’d also love more adult volunteers like yourself!
Here are just a few to check out:
7. Be supportive and expect great things!
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France
Above all, keep encouraging the kids in your life to dream big and never give up! Your mentee may become the next brilliant young person to win an impressive scholarship, set a new record, or become a big tech entrepreneur.
Former CBT Nuggets team member Katie Bowman wrote this blog post for us. Thanks, Katie!