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Letter: Teach kids to dream, design, develop a better world

Our children are our future. How often have we heard that line? Probably more times than we can count, but it is truer now than ever before, especially as we find ourselves overwhelmed with new technologies on a daily basis. We rely on Generation M to help us navigate this confusing world.

Unfortunately, although preteens and teens may appear fluent, flitting among social-media sites, uploading selfies and texting friends, their digital skills end there. According to a new study by Stanford University, middle school, high school and college students have a tough time distinguishing between ads and news, and understanding conflicts of interest in information presented as fact. A 2015 census sponsored by Common Sense Media determined that on any given day only 3 percent of tweens’ and teens’ digital media time is spent on content creation.

Students’ lack of critical thinking skills and creativity places our future in jeopardy. Coding and computer literacy is no longer an optional skill. It is more important now than ever that students fully understand how to evaluate, use and apply digital technology.

From Dec. 5 through Dec. 11, schools, universities, libraries and families around the globe participated in an annual event dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take an interest in computer science. This week was selected specifically to honor Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, born on Dec. 9, 1906, who invented the first computer compiler – a key step in the development of modern programming languages.

I encourage you to celebrate the achievements of computing pioneer Grace Hopper and the more recent accomplishments of other computer scientists, engineers, inventors and dreamers.

It is not enough for our children to passively consume technology. We need to teach them how to dream, design and develop a better world for everyone. When you teach a child to code, you teach them how to change the world.

— Patrice Gans, executive director, Random Hacks of Kindness Junior, Woodbury

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