Raise creators not consumers of tech- teach computer skills for kids monkeyandmom

Raise Creators, not Consumers of Tech | Teach Computer Skills for Kids

There’s a common misconception that kids can pick up all computer skills for kids on their own. We might assume that because our little ones are tech-savvy with iPads or our teens breeze through video games, they’re already tech experts and computer literate. But here’s a different way to think about it: being consumers of technology is not the same as being creators of technology.

In today’s article, let’s dive into what it really means for kids to be creators of (and with) technology. We’ll chat about teaching them basic computer skills and I share some ideas to help you get started, including a freebie you don’t want to miss.

Plus, I’ll circle back to my old favorite, MYTEK LAB, for raising tech-confident creators who are ready for anything.

But before even getting into the article, if you have young kids, make sure they know the skills on this before electronics checklist.

This is a sponsored post. I was given the product to review and I might have been compensated for my time. I would never endorse or recommend programs we wouldn’t use ourselves. Read more about it in my Disclosure.

At A Glance – Teaching Computer Skills to Kids

It’s important to teach computer skills to kids, moving from fundamental basics like typing and internet safety to creative pursuits like coding and digital art.
Empowering children to become tech-savvy creators will allow them to move into any career down the line.

There are many effective learning tools and programs, such as MYTEK LAB, that support computer literacy skills for kids.

Here are my top 3 reasons to teach computer skills to kids:

1. Empower kids as technology creators, not mere consumers
2. Unlock opportunities regardless of their path
3. Teach them how to think critically, solve problems, and be innovators

Read more below.

Raise creators not consumers of tech teach kids computer skills

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Creators or consumers of technology- gamer or game designer?

I know this perspective is a bit different, but think of creators vs consumers as gamers vs designers.

I’ve seen an ad recently that got me thinking. It was about some in-person coding classes for kids.

The guy in the ad said he took a bunch of kids interested in programming and becoming game developers to visit an important game developer headquarters. And what he said next made me realize we, as parents (and consumers of tech) fail to see this subtle difference between consumers and creators.

He said that the tour guide at this facility asked kids how many hours per day they played games. The kids proudly answered 3,6,8, thinking they would be praised for their gaming performance. But the tour guide replied that none of them would make it to become game creators because the creation of games is not mere playing.

technology activites for kids

Creating video games is a complicated process. It’s not the same as playing games. Here’s a simplified breakdown of what it actually involves:

  1. Idea and Design: Game creators start with a concept and plan how the game will work.
  2. Art and Sound: Artists make characters and images, and sound designers create sounds and music.
  3. Programming: Programmers build the game using special tools.
  4. Level and Story: Designers make game levels and create stories.
  5. Testing: Testers find and fix problems in the game.
  6. Promotion: Games need to be marketed to players.
  7. Release and Support: The game is launched and may need updates and fixes.

Playing games is fun, but making them is a lot of work and needs different skills that take time to develop. It’s important for kids to understand that creating games is more than just playing them.

This is one of the reasons why I think it’s essential to teach computer skills to kids, to encourage them to see how technology can be used in creativity and expression and it making your work easier or in bringing your imagination to life.

What are computer literacy skills for kids?

When we say computer skills for kids, we’re talking about more than just knowing how to click around on a screen. It’s important that kids learn how to use different kinds of computer hardware and software in different ways. This means using various computer programs and staying safe online. And later, getting creative with making things on the computer.

Of course, we start with essential computer skills like typing and mouse skills, parts of a computer, and other basic computer knowledge. Kids need to know how to use a mouse and keyboard and to get familiar with basic internet browsing before we ask them to code. Once kids master the important skills, introduce your child to more advanced ones, step by step.

And hey, if you want a big curated list of 36 cool websites to help you along the way, make sure you get our FREE printable. It’s got everything you need to get you started to teach computer skills for kids in elementary, middle, and high school in the form of checklists!

Teaching computer literacy skills and how we did it

Computer skills encompass so many smaller skills that it’s no wonder a lot of parents are a bit overwhelmed with the task at hand. But don’t worry, if you know how to decently use a computer and the internet, you’re good enough to be the launchpad for your children.

And once you’ve hit the brick wall and cannot teach them anything else, you have a lot of free and paid resources to come to your aid, like MYTEK LAB, our current IT class for 7th grade.

So how do you do it? Step by step.

Basic computer skills for kids

Before we get into all the fun stuff kids can do with tech, we’ve got to start with the computer basics for kids. This means making sure kids know how a computer works.

And I don’t mean boring lectures about RAM and CPUs, though I admit these are important, too. For starters, they need to get comfy with using a mouse and gaining some keyboard skills, and they should know what different parts of the computer do. Show them the exciting bits, get them curious about how things work. If you need some help to get things moving for younger kids, use Hello Ruby for hands-on introductory lessons to the world of tech.

You can teach these skills to your child offline and on your own at this stage, but there are some online programs that can make things more fun, like using fun games to teach mouse skills and improve their mouse dexterity (more like these in our Computer Technology For Kids Handbook).

Don’t skip those important lessons on how to properly shut down a computer and how to care for it. This will set the stage for how they will treat their computer down the line.

I pulled out an old laptop and let Marc explore how to use various hardware: the keyboard, mouse, trackpad. He soon learned more keyboard shortcuts than me and learned how to use the mouse to toggle between tabs or zoom in and out with mouse gestures. So I highly recommend letting kids explore on an old computer (with your guidance!). They will soon discover all the features on their own because there’s nothing like learning hands-on.

If you want to make sure young kids are safe, just disconnect it from the internet and install useful apps on it. Nothing beats the old Paint or Word. To make things interesting, show them how to print a document. Just make sure you have enough paper! Marc was relentless once he discovered he could actually get physical copies of his digital creations.

Once kids know what various hardware do, let them explore navigation and menu items in safe programs (on their old computer). They will soon see a pattern among many programs. Don’t forget to tell them about folder organization, file saving, and deleting unnecessary files.

teach computer skills for kids mouse

Online safety and internet usage

Once they know these basics, it’s time to move to the internet. Show them how to browse safely how to tell if a website is trustworthy, how to keep their info safe, and how to be kind online.

For safe internet browsing and research, we like to use the Elephango Chrome extension. You can learn more about how we use it in my Elephango review.

It’s also recommended you install parental controls or enable them if they come with your OS. Windows has something called Windows Family Safety, and Macs have Parental Control options. There are other paid software with more features, but we won’t cover them here.

I made sure to have extensive talks with Marc about the dangers of the internet and how not all sites are safe to use. We talked about viruses and about the dangers of downloading files to your computer. We share a family account so he needs to ask for my permission every time he wants to install something new. If you need some help guiding these discussions I recommend Welcome to the Web to get you started.

For blocking dangerous sites permanently, I use (and love) Coldturkey. It’s not free if you want more control, but it’s very affordable, having a lifetime option. I use it for myself, too, to keep me from mindlessly scrolling, and for Marc to block inappropriate sites.

Now that they have the basics down, you can move to teach them how to surpass the role of mere users of technology. If you’re looking for a structured and safe way to allow kids to learn technology, check out platforms like MYTEK LAB. They’ve got expert-led courses in a safe environment where kids can learn, interact, and explore together and it’s one of the IT platforms we love using as our official IT curriculum. This is the second year we’re using them.

teaching computer skills for kids internet safety

Getting into typing and emails

So, kids might know the basics of computers and browsing, but that doesn’t mean we stop perfecting their skills, au contraire. I believe it’s extremely important for kids to have good (or excellent) typing skills seeing that computer usage is more and more prevalent. So invest some time in focusing on typing skills!

To keep things engaging, there are plenty of typing programs available, many of which are free (a full list in my printable).

One that Marc loved using is Nitro Type. It turns typing into a fun game-like experience. With Nitro Type, kids can compete in typing races against others online, which not only enhances their typing skills but also adds a competitive element that they’ll enjoy. This is a great way to get older kids to practice their typing.

And let’s not forget about emails. These days, knowing how to read, search, and write emails is a handy skill. It’s like digital letter-writing. By teaching them these skills early on, you’re setting them up for success in the digital world.

For Marc, we have a shared iCloud account, so it made sense to create an e-mail address for him on the iCloud, but Gmail and Microsoft both have great options for kids where parents can create and control their e-mails until they are old enough.

If your kids are old enough for social media, make sure you discuss extensively the new dangers this poses, including how your identity is exposed online, what grooming is, and how people on the other side of the conversation might not be who they claim to be. For more serious online safety conversations check Think U Know, a great website with resources for all ages about online safety, and if you want even more resources, I’ve added them in my printable, so grab it!

teaching computer skills for kids MYTEK LAB review

Getting started with coding and programming for kids

Once kids know basic typing and mouse usage you can finally teach them coding. Coding can be an exciting experience for kids because it introduces them to the building blocks of technology and creativity.

Even before you go online, you can begin with simple coding hands on activities for young kids that lay the groundwork and then you can go on using visual programming tools or block-based coding platforms, like Scratch. These activities will help kids grasp fundamental concepts in a hands-on and engaging way.

Once kids have a grasp of the basics, keep the momentum going. Encourage them to explore coding further and use various programs to create and learn.

You might think coding is tough for kids or that you’re not an expert. No worries! It’s okay to feel that way. The good news is that educators like Jacky and Stephen Souders from MYTEK LAB have thought about the challenges parents might encounter. They’ve created comprehensive coding and technology classes tailored for kids ages 8 and up.

Marc has tested several programming languages on his own through free platforms like Code.org, but what truly opened his eyes to Python coding (the language he is learning now) has been MYTEK LAB. They have great introductory classes where they simply explore various programs with kids, so kids can then choose their favorites and go deeper.

So even if you’re worried you don’t know coding yourself, there are a lot of free platforms online (More examples in the printable) to get kids started.

coding skills for kids block coding for kids

Creative software

Using tech for work and creativity can spread out in so many directions! You can paint digitally, write digitally, and create music digitally.

Once your kids know how to use basic programs, they can start exploring various software or websites to get creative. This phase involves delving into digital art tools like Photopea or user-friendly animation software like Pencil2D, sparking their imagination and allowing them to express themselves through technology. There are even programs for creating music and I included a few in our freebie.

A fantastic option for expanding their creative horizons is MYTEK LAB‘s internet technology classes. These classes open up exciting avenues such as pixel art, 3D modeling, and game creation. I love that it all happens on the platform, so kids can use all the digital tools to code, animate, and create pixel art or 3D renders on the same platform!

Marc is taking their internet technology class this year because I wanted him to explore even further, into the world of game design, 3D design, and more. One of his wishes is to own a 3D printer, so I found this the perfect reason to let him learn more about the complexities of 3D designs before he actually gets a physical 3D printer.

In fact, we’re so enthusiastic about this IT class that we’ve made it part of our 7th-grade curriculum as an elective this year—and we’re absolutely loving it!

computer skills for kids with pixel art technology for kids MYTEK LAB

Top 3 reasons why we should teach computer skills for kids

Let’s be real—technology is everywhere, and it’s not going away. Instead of avoiding it, I feel we should help our kids become tech-savvy creators because it’s an investment in their future.

At the same time, teaching kids to use technology as a tool for assistance, creativity, and productivity helps strike a balance and a healthy relationship with technology. This helps avoid the trap of mindless scrolling and gaming, which offer little long-term value.

So, here are the top 3 reasons why I believe teaching computer skills for kids is essential:

1. Empower kids as technology creators

Teaching computer skills isn’t just about gadgets. It’s about turning kids into tech creators who shape and invent with technology. When we teach them coding, programming, and digital design, we’re giving them the tools to build their own apps (like this 12-year-old app creator), websites, and digital art.

This isn’t just about making future programmers. It’s about preparing them for many paths. Being innovative with tech isn’t just for coding—it’s a useful skill everywhere.

That’s why I love MYTEK LAB. It exposes kids to a range of tech skills, letting them explore and think creatively. Knowledge is power, and knowing what tools you have at your disposal and what they can do sets kids up for success.

Beyond tech, these skills bring more benefits. I mentioned some in my MYTEK LAB review last year. Programming helps with critical thinking, solving problems, having a flexible mindset, managing tasks, thinking innovatively, logic, learning methods, staying motivated, and more. These skills make creative minds thrive in any situation.

Creators not consumers of technology- teach computer skills for kids

2. Unlock opportunities regardless of their path

Did you see today’s tech world coming just a few years ago? In no time, our tech outlook has flipped. Remote work is routine, AI is booming—it’s clear tech’s here to stay.

Teaching kids this tech know-how lets them handle a world that’s always changing. Their edge? Understanding how tech ticks. Being tech-savvy is universally applicable across all fields.

Computer skills aren’t just for science and tech.

While programming languages might seem tailored to math-oriented children, have you considered them for those who excel in languages? If they enjoy learning new languages, they already possess a knack for language acquisition. Learning coding languages is like learning any other language—it boosts their skills and sharpens their minds.

What about our young artists?

They too can reap the benefits of learning technology skills. Think of digital drawing, music production, and beyond! Activities like 3D modeling, animation, and game development can broaden their horizons, enrich their portfolios, and provide new ways for creative expression.

And where can you find these opportunities?

MYTEK LAB is one of the most comprehensive technology programs for kids out there. It offers both introductory and advanced courses, enabling exploration of the tech world, from traditional programming to creative pursuits like pixel art, 3D modeling, and game design. With step-by-step instructions and options for live or flexible-paced learning, kids can safely delve into various creative outlets under expert guidance.

We’ve been using MYTEK LAB to introduce Marc to various coding languages, and tech programs and it worked great for him because he is now interested in Python. I feel MYTEK LAB has opened the door to new explorations for him and we are thrilled to be doing another IT-filled year with them.

MYTEK LAB review coding classes for kids

3. Problem solving, critical thinking, and innovation

Learning to code and use technology effectively encourages kids to think critically and solve problems logically.

Computer programming, for example, requires breaking down complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps, which fosters problem-solving skills. These skills are not only applicable to technology but can be transferred to various other areas of life and learning.

Technology offers a platform for creativity and innovation. When kids learn to use technology as a tool for creating things, whether it’s designing websites, developing apps, or producing digital art, they can express their creativity in new and exciting ways. This creative outlet can boost their self-esteem and open up opportunities for them to contribute positively to the world.

Our goal moving forward is to encourage Marc to develop his own tech project, whether it’s a simple website, an app, or a program that solves a problem. I think this is not only useful for his future portfolio going into college, but also a great way to have him learn skills like executive functioning, project management, solution finding, critical thinking, troubleshooting, resilience, and even a growth mindset.

MYTEK LAB: Technology classes for kids that boost computer literacy skills

There are plenty of free websites to help parents introduce their kids to the world of computers, covering everything from basic computer usage to programming. You can find many of these resources in our Computer Technology for Kids printable guide.

But while free options are a great starting point, teaching programming or game designing is not as simple as it seems, so it’s worth considering paid programs for teaching these complex computer literacy skills to kids.

Programs like MYTEK LAB provide structured guidance, expert instruction, help sessions, and a sense of community that are not present in other, free websites.

Here’s what I like about MYTEK LAB and why I decided to continue with them for our IT elective this year:

☑️ Structured learning with expert guidance

At MYTEK LAB, kids can access step-by-step lessons and guidance through their live or flex-paced classes. This ensures that they receive a structured and supportive learning experience. Mr. MYTEK takes the lead, offering insights, answering questions, and acting as a mentor throughout their weekly Zoom meetings and help sessions.

Because of the time difference, we like watching the flex-paced classes and this way, Marc can also pause and complete the activities step by step without worrying he is lagging behind.

MYTEK LAB review monkeyandmom

☑️ Interactive and engaging technology classes

MYTEK LAB‘s classes are designed to be interactive and enjoyable. Kids learn through hands-on experience alongside Mr. Stephen Souders (also known as Mr. MYTEK). He is a friendly and knowledgeable teacher who creates a positive learning environment. In his classes, kids can explore coding, programming, 3D design, pixel art, web design, animation, and more with enthusiasm and without feeling overwhelmed.

The teacher’s ability to adapt the pace of lessons, offer additional context, and provide guidance enhances the learning experience significantly. The continuous feedback and assistance mirror having a teacher right there beside you, helping to clarify and support you whenever you encounter obstacles.

Marc loves working side by side with Mr. MYTEK and we found it very useful when Mr. MYTEK is answering questions from the students, live because many times they are the same questions Marc has.

MYTEK LAB review monkeyandmom dashboard

☑️ Strong community connection

One of the standout features of MYTEK LAB, in addition to its comprehensive curriculum, is the sense of community it offers. Kids have the opportunity to connect with teachers, and fellow students, and share their work, even participating in project voting. This sense of community encourages collaboration, nurtures creativity, and fosters a feeling of belonging.

This is something I appreciate having, even though Marc isn’t ready to interact online yet. I am hoping that with his more creative projects this year (like pixel art) he will open up to having his work in the gallery and maybe even comment on other kids’ work.

☑️ Homework evaluation and feedback

An aspect that sets MYTEK LAB apart from free platforms is the personalized feedback offered by experienced teachers. This feature holds immense value for us. Children enrolled in MYTEK LAB receive constructive feedback on their homework and projects, providing them with a deeper understanding of their progress.

I love the easiness of having the work graded by the teacher! This saves me a lot of stress because we need to submit grades every year.

MYTEK LAB review pixel art classes online

☑️ Earning IT high school credit

As we approach the high school years, the prospect of earning high school credit becomes increasingly pressing. If Marc is dedicating time and effort to developing a skill, having the opportunity to earn credit for it is truly valuable.

In our case, MYTEK LAB‘s collaboration with Bridgeway Academy aligns perfectly with our goals. This affiliation made the decision obvious for us and Marc is set up to receive 1 high school credit for his MYTEK LAB class.

Final Thoughts on teaching IT

Let’s wrap things up with a simple truth: tech is developing at a fast pace and we should encourage kids to learn computer skills. Not to turn everyone into coders, but to help them become creators and problem solvers. Let’s make sure they’re comfortable with technology, and not just passive users.

Even a little exposure to these skills can give them a head start, no matter what they want to do when they grow up. So, let’s nurture their curiosity and give them the tools they need to succeed in a tech-driven world.

Ready to get started? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Are there any computer skills you think are essential for kids today?

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