It was John F. Kennedy who said, "Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future." Every generation has recognized the hope within its children, and as today's major technological revolution unfolds, the youngest among us are leading the charge.
These children can lead because they have access to so much valuable, educational media produced and distributed by companies, brands, nonprofit organizations, and key influencers about new technologies and practices. With 88 percent of marketers using content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute, companies and organizations are increasingly able to educate audiences--including children--about the benefits and applications of technology. (For more key takeaways of CMI's Benchmarks report, check out my team's analysis of the surprising content marketing trends for 2016).
As a result, kids today have never known a time without high-speed access to information, and this growing content consumption means children are better equipped to create, too.
As the father of a 2-year-old, I see my daughter's natural curiosity and desire to play every day. She consistently surprises me by wanting to try something new or to better understand an action or situation. For instance, a few weeks ago, she wanted to understand why I took the car in a cave that splashed water all over it or why I hit a small ball with a rod so that it rolls into a gopher hole. I know she's not the only one. Children have always sought to understand the world around them, and increased and improved access to information and technology creates a perfect environment in which they can learn, play, and create.
Parents who want to tap into their children's inherent creativity and capabilities can find wonderful and easily accessible opportunities that invest in giving today's youngest generation the tools and resources they need to solve the problems of tomorrow.
The Maker Movement
A technological and creative learning shift is underway, championing those who would rather invent, design, or tinker than solely consume content and ideas. The Maker Movement is a "tech-influenced, grassroots, DIY community" that appeals directly to young minds through its Maker Faire events around the world.
Designed to showcase the latest in invention, creativity, and resourcefulness among the tech community, these Maker Faire shows have quickly evolved into family-friendly events that regularly highlight the efforts of young children at the forefront of some of the world's most exciting inventions. The events have something for everyone, but they place a particular emphasis on reaching kids and motivating the future Makers among us to realize even their wildest of imaginations.
Applying the Maker Movement in the Classroom
For kids who are eager to capitalize on technology--and for parents looking to encourage creative thinking and innovation--the traditional classroom approach may seem to be moving at a glacial pace. While most schools continue to function under an outdated paradigm that fails to take into account individual students' natural abilities and interests, forward-thinking teachers and school administrators are finding new ways to engage children by using technical, hands-on opportunities with real-world applications.
Programs like MakerSpace by Make; the STEAM initiative, which adds art and design to the traditional science, technology, engineering, and math focus; and Fab Labs are growing in popularity in today's schools. Equal parts science class, woodshop, computer lab, and art studio, these unique environments accommodate a wide range of activities and interests, helping reignite a love of learning by making classrooms an ideal place for kids to experiment without fear of failure.
The Online Maker Movement
While the Maker Movement has seen success in hands-on settings, strong opportunities for children to create also exist online--after all, that's where they're accessing so much of this information anyway. Websites like Khan Academy can teach kids technical skills such as coding and programming, and the content is free.
Beyond these educational tutorials, children can apply these skills online, and one of my favorites is Tech Trep Academy. Recently launched as an interactive learning community, Tech Trep offers courses such as programming, 3D printing, digital art and animation, and entrepreneurship. And with access to online mentors, it provides a platform for young tech enthusiasts to turn their new skills into real-world entrepreneurship opportunities.
As companies and organizations continue to create and distribute educational content around new technologies and applications, we'll continue to see today's youth transform tomorrow's business landscape.