Is Coding the New Language of Gen Z?

Posted by: Ilana Bodker

Programming, or as some call it, the “new literacy,” has become an increasingly popular skill for today’s students and young workers to learn. Today, dozens of programs (e.g., “Girls Who Code”, “Hour of Code”) promote programming as a fun and practical skill. Even President Obama encouraged the nation to learn to code while in office. Coding not only provides the basis for practical technological jobs such as web design, software development and information sciences, but it also helps develop problem-solving techniques and logic for our next generation of leaders.

While modern programming has existed for decades, our world has become even more reliant on software and digital developments in our current post-digital age where new advances and upgrades are released on a near-daily basis. Gen Z is growing up surrounded by more technology than previous generations, so it’s not a stretch to predict they will demonstrate more interest in learning about it as well. As a result, society has realized the importance of teaching computational thinking, with some grade schools implementing programming as electives. Gen Zer David F., a 14-year-old who has not yet started high school, has already taken a class on coding basics.

I thought it was cool because it’s kind of like learning a language,” he said.

Even more so than Millennials, this generation of teenagers is particularly preoccupied with finding stable jobs in growing fields, a result of growing up in the stagnant economy following  the Great Recession. We found through our research that more than half of Gen Z believes personal success is the most important thing in life. In a world where social and traditional media report failures up to 17 times more than positive news, teens knows it takes determination, hard work and responsibility — not luck — to achieve that personal success. Hence, programming might just hit the sweet spot for the practical-minded, digitally-oriented Gen Z.

The most exciting advances in most scientific and technical fields already involve big datasets, powerful algorithms, and people who know how to work with both,” wrote journalist Tasneem Raja.

However, at the rate of technological advancements today, the jobs towards which Gen Z aspires likely do not even exist yet. This is why it’s imperative to learn these skills that can adapt to future career opportunities. The computer science field is constantly evolving, giving Gen Z more opportunities to build and innovate in the digital space.

“People my age like direct results where you can see your impact,” explains 18-year-old Ellie B., who plans to study informatics in college. “Since it’s technology, we use it so often. We can be creative and use it to solve problems.”

At this stage, it’s still too early to predict if coding is the language of the future or if the buzz around it will merely fade with time. What we do know, however, is that Gen Z is prepared to embrace the opportunities it brings with open arms and a strong work ethic to make a real difference in the world of tomorrow. Brands, take note.

Want more on Gen Z? Stay tuned for Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, coming Spring 2018. Pre-order here!

About Ilana Bodker

Ilana's background in publishing combined with a lifelong love of writing led her to her interest in advertising and marketing. She served as Junior Editor for Jeff Fromm and Angie Read's upcoming "Marketing to Gen...See Ilana's full bio.