How young is too young to start programming?

By , ITworld |  Software, Children, education

No one doubts that programming, or at least technical literacy, is critical for today's students. But how early should one start slinging code?

A blog by 18 year old Kenny Tran titled "Didn't Begin When I Was 12" started a conversation on YCombinator. Tran wonders if by 18 he's too old to become a good programmer, since many started younger. Is 18 too old to start and be successful? Is 12 too young?

Many make the argument that the younger the better. Alfred Thompson, in his Microsoft Education blog, says middle school is the time to start. A 13 year old asks if that's too young on Yahoo Answers. If you do start children early, how?

Start young

Aiden and I built our first Lego NXT robot the other day. We programmed it together. He's five.
Steve Dembo on blogs.msdn.com

I started when I was 16, so you're not too young. You can never be too young for programming!
Abdur-Rahman on answers.yahoo.com

I learned to code at about 12, but it took over my life. I don't think I talked to a single girl between the ages of 12 and 19, never mind went to parties
barrkel on news.ycombinator.com

Start anytime

People are already telling you that eighteen is not too old to learn programming. And they are correct. People start at forty and fifty.
mechanical_fish on news.ycombinator.com

My own children (13 & 17) have TAUGHT THEMSELVES programming because I thought they were too young when they felt they were ready.
Erica Roberts on blogs.msdn.com

I started, well, pre-kindergarten. Or in my teens, for anything major and self-guided. Or at about twenty for producing professional results. Or in my late twenties, as someone who could do research-level algorithms work. Or today. If I stop using a language for a while, I have to relearn it.
glimcat on news.ycombinator.com

Tools

I think kids should be introduced to the idea as soon as they're old enough to follow instructions, like making brownie mix using the recipe on the box. If you can do that, you can learn some very basic programming concepts.
Liz Krane on blogs.msdn.com

You need to look up the language Python. There are a ton of free tutorials and guides on the internet for it, and I have confidence you can learn it.
Charlie Strangler on answers.yahoo.com

you DON'T start by learning languages, you start by learning programming.
Colanth on answers.yahoo.com

If you're a programmer, tell us how old you were when you started.

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