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Digital Kids Byte Into Being Entrepreneurs

Digital Kids Byte Into Being Entrepreneurs

Today’s youth is inundated with technology. From Xboxes, TiVos, iPods and cell phones, Generation Z will be the most “connected” generation of Digital Kids to ever to walk the planet.

After watching his twelve-year old son surf the net, text message friends, and immerse himself in technology, sales consultant and business owner Peter Hanson from the Philadelphia area had an idea. Why not harness his twelve year old’s thirst for technology and redirect it towards a skill that would help him compete in the 21st century?

Although his company was doing well, his website didn’t adequately portray his firm. If his son Kyle learned how to build websites, he could then hire him to redesign and update his company’s site. Luckily, while surfing the web, his wife had come across a technology camp where they could send their son Kyle to learn these new skills.

So while most young boys are busy playing sports during the summer, Kyle attended iD Tech Camps and learned how to make websites pivot, jump and bounce with Flash Animation.

iD Tech Camps provides weeklong, beginner to advanced, hands-on summer technology courses for ages 7-17 at prestigious universities in 19 states. These 40 locations include Stanford, Princeton, UCLA, Columbia, Northwestern, Vassar, and Emory. During the week, students take courses in web design, digital video production, 2D and 3D video game creation, and programming & robotics. With small class sizes averaging only six students per instructor, students are given the attention they need to excel.

Students use industry products from tech leaders like Adobe, Macromedia, Apple, Canon, RadioShack, Wacom and AutoDesk. Besides a week of fun, these Digital Kids leave with a completed project using products which professionals use, increased tech-confidence, and a competitive edge.

“I was really proud that I created a really cool website within one week that made my instructor’s jaw drop when he watched my Flash Animation morph from different shapes into a logo,” said Kyle.

With the Flash Animation Shape Tween tool, Kyle made his animation come alive. He used different colored shapes that finally morphed into his “Kyle Henson Productions” logo.

“At first it was hard, but my instructor showed me how to morph objects. I think making animations for my site was not only super fun, but really rewarding knowing that I was using the same software that professional web designers use.”

Today’s challenge for parents is helping their kids learn technology that they themselves do not use or understand. They depend on school to achieve this goal, but unfortunately schools today still lag in integrating technology into the curriculum. Thomas K. Glennan and Arthur Melmed address this critical issue in their article Fostering the Use of Educational Technology: Elements of a National Strategy. “The nation’s most important educational goal must be to produce learners adequately prepared for life and work in the 21st century. In 1994, U.S. schools spent about $3 billion on computer- and network-based technology. Despite all this activity, however, examples of school-wide use of technology are comparatively rare and isolated.”

iD Tech Camps addresses this pressing need and uses tech savvy role models for instructors. As role models, these college students and recent grads make learning fun and share first-hand how technology is making a positive impact. “Our philosophy is to be mentors for these Digital Kids. They are like sponges, and love to soak up this knowledge,” said Jennifer Liss, Camp Director at the iD Tech Camps where Kyle attended. “These kids can’t get enough so it’s incredibly inspiring for us to teach them what we’ve learned in college and our professions.”

The end result is a sense of empowerment, independence and self-confidence as students learn to articulate their creativity through new ways by using technology. Often times they incorporate what they’ve learned in their school projects or even start side businesses.

While Kyle is using his newly learned website design skills to help his dad improve his company’s website, across the country in San Francisco ten-year-old Julian is transforming his passion for video games into a profitable business.

Julian’s mom, Ellen Finnegan, also heard of iD Tech Camps and immediately enrolled her bright son in a Video Game Creation course. Her hope was to inspire Julian in technology through his passion–video games.

But Ellen never expected how far he’d go. After creating his video game at camp, using the easy-to-use Multimedia Fusion, Julian didn’t stop there. When he returned home, he would finish his homework quickly, and then would spend time adding more details to his game. He then began selling his game to peers. The demand was so large that this young entrepreneur expanded his sales team by hiring his eight year old sister and her friend. It worked. Now Julian is working on his third sequel due to the pent up demand.

With these Digital Kids, the sky is the limit. With both Kyle and Julian already enrolled in more courses on Programming & Robotics, Web Design, and Digital Video, who knows what these whiz kids will create next.

And what does Julian want to do in the future?

“Own several video game companies,” said this confident fourth grader. “If I’m rich, I’ll own three. If not, I’ll own one.”