Its a good morning in 2020, I just woke up had my breakfast and scrolled through some feed where I came across the sad story of her mother who thinks her 9yr old is facing a probable mental trauma because of the insensitive, unconventional and rude teaching techniques of the employees of educationers (supposedly,app developers) on this yet another, new and revolutionary education app called, Whitehat jr. I went through her dilemma and her predicament and could understand or so I believe, her problem. But the question that strikes out to me is what kind of parent is she, who has pushed her 9 yr old to learn app development. To me this just seems like lousy parenting, although I might not be qualified to be giving parenting advice, what a parent should and should not do, but I was once a child too so I guess I am qualified enough to say what a child should be done to and should not be done to.
I have been into computer science and coding for a major part of my life till now and I am no stranger to the app dev community and the business behind it. Being an “IT guy” myself, the dull and mundane life of IT engineers which sucks happiness out of you faster than new apps being launched in market, I can assure you your child isn’t missing anything if she doesn’t learn coding till she at least 14 (only if she really wants to). At a tender age of 8 or 9, you are forcing your child to sit in guidance of an out of job app developer and learn the concepts of java, python, ai and what not so that he could do what? be a successful in life? As a parent in this age relating directly money to success is the worst thing you could teach your child. At such a small age a child needs to learn values, to learn empathy, kindness, make friends, learn things that he can be truly happy doing when he grows older. As a parent sometimes when you get frustrated in life and just have had enough of life, what do you do? Do you sit and reflect on your happy childhood memories, playing with your friends or watching movies, maybe go through some of your art you did as a child or call that old friend, or play the piano you learnt or do some gardening to let your mind off? or do you switch on your pc and open android studio and jupyter notebook and start coding ? No right? But thats what your doing to your child. Apart from school you are consuming more of his time teaching him to code which even you are not sure will ever be helpful to him. At 30 yrs of age when you daughter us sitting frustrated from her job and feeling down, will it help her to feel better by doing some coding? I don’t think so, she will want friends, she will want memories, she will want her childhood that you didn’t let her have. You robbed your own daughter of her happiness after peacefully living your own.
The successful money making image of Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest billionaire who developed facebook. If those are your expectations, then I am sorry, you don’t have the first basic knowledge about app dev neither about life. Zuckerberg, a man tied up in lawsuits for being a crook who tried to wrongfully influence election outcomes of more than one country and is the reason for the disaster of this decade, social media addiction in children, is your role model for your daughter. Today, coding and app dev is a trillion dollar business, with 100’s of app being launched out everyday with just one purpose, grab your attention. Attention is the currency of this business, every click, every scroll is being monitored to keep your glued to your screen, to trap your attention and divert it to fulfil their purpose of selling ads and products to you. Apps with varied purposes are being rolled out everyday to earn more and more money. Educational apps that have captured Indian markets with their flashy cheap subscription, flexible course and attractive ads to let parents into thinking that their child needs it. But reality is, these is just another business and they don’t care about educating your child, they just care about more and more subscriptions, better review, improved numbers and profits. Your child’s school teacher is the one who cares about what he needs and doesn’t, and if they don’t, then you need to have a word with them, but do not get your child another app subscription, and then force them to attend more and more tiring classes when they should be doing stuff that makes them happy.
An average child in India spends 6–7 hrs in schools, and 2–3 hrs of tuition, even after this if as a parent you think forcing your child to learn coding which will take more 2 hrs of her day and then add up to her burden and your expectations, then your are just blind to the fact that she is just a child and needs to have a life, make friends and be happy, because that is what matters in life. This pressure will add upto a traumatic childhood and sooner or later effect her self esteem and her life decisions.
Well, to me app dev is first the understanding of a problem, that needs to be solved. A problem that can be solved by a structured process of actions that make the task easier. This needs a cognitive understanding of the problem, different aspects of it, and how effective your solution is going to be for people to make this easier. Then this is followed by further implementing your solution and making the app, Ill not go into details of which. But the whole point here is that your 8 yr old needs to go through the pressure of understanding this problem statement and then coming out with a solutions which in no way is impossible for him, but is essentially a difficult task, so let me ask you this, is it worth it? Is the pressure you are putting on your child at such a tender age worth his/her childhood?
Chintu, might be just as smart and might be able to do it, but Chintu is an ad character and his story might not even be true. Whatever be the truth, chintu surely is one in a million. Your child already is one in a million, do you want her to be upto Chintu’s standards and be like him rather than be herself. One in a million is an anomaly, is a result of some non-replicable circumstances, non-replicable means you cannot just recreate it, it happens on its own. You cannot just create Chintu’s everyday by some 1000 buck subscription amount, so stop running after Chintu and rather, let your child be themselves.
Well, alot of parents might argue that their child actually likes coding and enjoys it, and this might be true as well. However, children are impressionable and always want their parents approval. When they do something, that makes their parent happy, they want to do it again and again, to impress their parents, to get their positive attention and to get their love. His/her liking of coding might also be a result of her trying to make you happy. Indian parents have this tendency to burden their child with expectations and dreams that they couldn’t fulfil, by attaching their love and attention to the child only when he/she does things according to their expectations. So your child might not be liking it, just trying to make their parent happy, and to me this is lousy parenting, as you should be the one making them happy not the other way around. Your making your child a people pleaser and attention seeker which will affect their life majorly. So please seek out the real reason behind your child’s interest in app dev, if any.
Your 8–9 yr old should be making friends, watching fun movies, spending time with you. Take them on trips, take them camping, visit museums, zoos, teach them empathy, teach them respect other human being. Teach them to have goals in life and have a passion to follow. Teach them life skills, to swim, to cook, to read looooots of books. To manage their pocket money, to say NO, to say YES, to not let other run their life and most of all to stand up whenever they fall down. If among all these things you choose none and instead make her study on whitehat jr, because you do not have the time to do any of these for them, then maybe your the one who needs to learn. You can’t just have a kid and deny responsibilities. Don’t fall for this business trap, don’t become a Pappu while making your child a Chintu.
Well, thats all folks. Those are my two cents on this whitehat jr thing. And being an IT guy I felt I could do my part too, Ill also do some more. If any parent comes to me saying “Beta mere bache ka app dev ka doubt hai solve kr do” my reply would be “Beta app delete kr do” cuz I sure am against this and not going to help you ruin your child’s life.
Lastly, I am not some social vigilante, I am a bored IT guy on a Monday afternoon, whose parents were wise enough to give him lots of books to read in childhood.