The White Hat Crime

We have heard of White Collar Crime. But, have you heard of the White Hat Crime? Do not mistake this to be an article on White Hat Hackers – the ethical Hackers. Read on and try and figure out what we are doing to ourselves and the future generations, thanks to greed.

Coding, which is about programming computers to do tasks, has been around for years. Initially, it was seen as something that we learnt after completing an Engineering Degree. Then, it got introduced in to the Engineering curriculum. Then, it crept downwards to 11th and 12th Grade and slowly began its descent and now it is down to the 6 year old!!!

A company talked of how coding at a very young age will help children acquire cognitive abilities and skills that make them coding champions. They said that this would make them that little genius who could create Apps. To ensure they push this in to the psyche of parents, they created advertisements and went on air very aggressively. Parents started feeling that their children are missing something out and were in a hurry to enroll children in to the coding program. This was priced at close to INR 100,000 in India.

The advertisements from this company were bold. Infact, one ad ran the line “INR 20 crore salary at the age of 13”. Few parents didn’t like this. They complained to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). On examination by the ASCI, 5 of the 7 ads that were being pushed across social media, television, etc were found to be false claims. The company was forced to pull down their ads.

The damage was done by then!!! Millions of parents had signed up their children with such programs. The company proved that they could play with the fears of parents who wanted the best for their children.

Children’s cognitive abilities develop when they interact in the real world with the environment around them. As parents, we try our best to answer their insatiable ability to ask questions and we also read up to give them answers. This helps our children build their knowledge and abilities. When we get them to work with their hands, they build life skills. They don’t need more screen time and virtual friends. They need more time out in the open, playing, fighting and interacting with “real” friends and building lifetime relationships.

I request all of us to just pause and think through clearly on this. Do we want a nice, happy and enjoyable childhood for our children or do we see them as someone who will make INR 20 crores at the age of 13 (by the way, the minimum age for working is 14)?

Greed seems to have got the better of some of us. For some, it is the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). But, is the 6 year old really missing out or feeling that s/he is missing out? Have we stopped to ask our children if they are missing out on coding? The answer will invariably be “No, we do not miss coding”. Ask them if they are missing going out to play with their friends and their answer will be a resounding YESSSSSSS.

It is time to get our priorities right. Don’t let a White Hat Crime creep up on you.

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