To jumpstart their future tech-y careers, many apps, toys and games are available to teach coding and computer science skills to kids. The variety can be dizzying. Live Science spoke with some educators, who seem to agree that open-ended play and the ability to "scale up" in complexity as a child grows older are useful rules of thumb when deciding which ones to purchase.
"The easy advice is to look for something easy," Mike Matthews, director of curriculum and program innovation at Katherine Delmar Burke School, a private, all-girls school in the San Francisco Bay area that offers coding opportunities within classes for its K–8 students, told Live Science. "Use really basic stuff to get kids into it." The problem, he said, is that games can be too restrictive. "Some games at the last [most advanced] level have nothing left to do." That means children will lose interest.