Another factor is that computer coding and technical subjects are the type of thing where talent in the area surfaces at an early age. Just as there are prodigies in mathematics, music, or chess some kids are accomplished at coding. But the existence of 6-year olds who can play the violin doesn’t lead us to believe that all 6-year olds must be musical geniuses so why do we seem to think that, because some kids are hackers, all kids can understand computers?
In fact, I have met very few kids (or non-professional adults) who understood what was actually going on in a computer. Faced with a computer problem outside their normal experience, most kids are just as baffled as most adults. But it’s nice to think that they might be smarter than we are. Somebody has to clean up our mess.
Originally posted in a slightly different version February 7, 2007. What do you think? Do kids understand computers better than adults or are they just faster learners?