Ancillary benefits of learning to code

Teenage coder earns millions of dollars from an online game they built.

The above sounds incredulous but it's true. Alex Balfanz, and a friend, built the game Jailbreak on the Roblox platform while just 18 years old and has earned over a million US dollars from the game. Roblox is an online game platform where children can play games online, but Roblox also allows coders to build and release their own games on Roblox. See an article on BBC titled Video games turning teenagers into millionaires.

While Alex’s success may be an exceptional one, there are several developers on Roblox earning thousands or hundreds of dollars. But even if your child never earns money as a coder there are several ancillary benefits from children learning to code that last a lifetime.

It enhances problem solving skills
Coding is fundamentally a problem-solving activity. Coders take a large problem and break it up into smaller more manageable problems and then solve each one in turn. Ultimately solving the original large problem. This technique is called decomposition and it can be incorporated into several other disciplines.

It builds self-confidence
Taking a project from conceptualization to reality builds self-confident. Children learn that they can make real the things they imagine. They start with small projects and build up to more complex ones using the same coding concepts. They can learn how to build apps, games, websites, simulators and even new programming languages.

It builds perseverance
There are times while coding that things will just not work as expected or worse will not work at all. Coders firstly have to figure out why the code is not working and then fix it. This process is called Debugging. Having to overcome these situations teaches perseverance.

Kids learn without even realising
Coding projects can be designed to introduce concept from a wide cross section of disciplines, mathematics, physics, English, music, art and engineering. Students learn about these topics without even realising that learning is taking place. The students are engaged and eager to learn.

It’s fun
Coding is just plain fun. Many teachers report that once children are introduced to coding it becomes their favourite activity. Children love to create, and coding allows them to create anything they can imagine. I remember being very excited at the first program I wrote. It was written in Basic, and it simply prompted the user to enter their name and then it said “Hello “. I was in heaven. I didn’t know what career I was interested in, but I knew it would involve computers.

As Merle Huerta put it in this article ‘Students who develop a mastery of coding have a “natural ability and drive to construct, hypothesize, explore, experiment, evaluate, and draw conclusions.”

And if they put in the effort, and the stars align just right, they could earn millions of dollars in the process.