As a college freshman in the '90s, it was the first time I had been away from my family and my first time living in the United States. As much as I loved the city, I missed my culture, my language and my friends.
One day, I was introduced by a friend to a Bulletin Board System (BBS) that allowed me to chat with people all over the world—particularly Latin America. Imagine a prehistoric Twitter, using VT300 terminals and simple Telnet commands. Yes, this was way before the term social media became part of our everyday vocabulary, and we had to teach ourselves basic lines of code to do stuff on the web.
We were a small group of geeks, some of which I'm still friends with, and if you can keep a secret, I even married one of them. Just like coding and social media have evolved, so have we, but a lot of the friends that were playing around with systems and white hacking back then are leaders in the digital market today. And by leaders, I mean they are the people behind the scenes making it all happen; the developers, the project managers, the architects, the designers, the innovators who apply their critical thinking skills to create the products our families consume on a daily basis.
What do they all have in common? They know the systems, they know the "back-end," they know how to code; and in my opinion, in the world we live in, if you know how to code, you pretty much have the tools to bring ideas to life.
If your kids are anything like my son, they are probably drawn like magnets to electronics and I think that using electronics can be a great springboard to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math—also known as STEM.
I have heard some people say that electronics kill imagination, but it doesn't have to be that way. Every time I hear about a new digital solution being created or a friend tells me about a great new app or game, I know that started in someone's imagination.
That's why earlier this year, we decided to get my son a Chromebook, so he could learn how to code.
Want to know why? Here are three of our reasons we want our kid to learn how to code:
1. We need more Hispanics in STEM
According to the Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities Report, in 2013 the percentage of Hispanic scientists and engineers working in science and engineering occupations was 4% for Hispanic men and 2% for Hispanic women. Taking into consideration that we are the nation's largest ethnic or race minority, if we start teaching our kids to code, we can change this number.
2. Job opportunities and security for the future
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 the average salary for computer scientists was $102,190. For software developers $93,350, and programmers earned $74,280 on average. By 2020, jobs in these areas are expected to grow by 22 percent.
3. It's free!
With sites like code.org and Codecademy, your kids can start to learn how to code for free and in the comfort of their home! If you want to see what my son has been up to, click here to play the first game he coded - he was able to decide everything from the background, the noises and how to score points.