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Mike S.

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STEM seems to be a topic that more and more parents are becoming aware of. It’s understandable given the high demand for people with STEM talent in the workforce. I’m sure I speak for many dads when I say that I would love for my child to graduate college and be in high demand. Finally all those years of dad nagging to study hard will make sense. If you’re looking to introduce your children to the world of STEM, I find it’s helpful to include fun STEM projects for kids when teaching to a younger child.

If you are new to the world of STEM don’t worry. You know the nerds have you covered! Check out our quick guide to STEM and why it’s something you should care about. Once you’re ready to take the next step the below projects are worthy of your consideration.

Why Teach With Projects?

Before we dive in let’s discuss why using projects is a great way to teach children.

STEM subjects can be tough to grasp and downright boring at times. Really, who finds matrix multiplication a good Saturday afternoon project? Not me.

By using projects kids are encouraged to learn in a manner that is fun. This makes the lessons stick as we tend to remember fun things more than boring things. Projects at home are also more open and freeing than class assignments. While messing a project at school results in low marks, messing up at home is simply a learning experience.

A few other reasons I like projects:

  • Rapid feedback as you see the results in (mostly) real-time
  • Improved learning performance since it is active learning (doing the project) and not passive (listening to a lecture)
  • Projects can foster teamwork and competition which makes them that much more fun

I personally enjoy learning by doing projects. Whenever I set out to learn something new, such as a programming language, I like to jump right in and create something. I might consult documentation or StackOverflow, but it’s mostly trial by error. It’s fun and provides me with motivation to get better than I was the day before.

STEM Projects For Kids

Buckle up and get ready for some amazing STEM projects for kids that can easily be done at home. Many of these are fun for people of all ages. You might even teach an *old* dad new tricks.

Science

First up we have slime. Who doesn’t love a good slime projects? Well, I don’t enjoy the clean up part so much. This project will have kids explore the world of science and chemistry when they create their own saline solution slime. Your kids can add in their favorite colors, sparkles, clay, glitter and any other number of items to make their own unique creation.

Supplies:

  • Clear or white PVA glue (1/2 cup)
  • Saline solution that contains boric acid and sodium borate (1 tablespoon)
  • Water (1/2 cup)
  • Baking soda (1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Extras: glitter, food coloring, etc.

Steps:

  • Mix the water and glue in a large bowl
  • Add the food coloring, glitter, and any other mix-ins
  • Stir in the baking soda to give the slim form and add some firmness
  • Stir in the saline solution until the slim starts to form
  • Get in there and kneed the slime

As you can tell this isn’t a long experiment, but it will introduce kids to states of matter, mixtures, and elasticity.

Technology

We’ve presented technology projects for kids before on Nerdy Dads. It’s kinda what we are passionate about. Today I’ll introduce you to a tech project kids and parents will love. I present to you the scrub brush robot. Fun for kids because it’s a robot. A joy for parents since it is educational and can clean small surfaces.

Supplies:

  • Scrub brush (I prefer those that can stand on their own
  • Motor (3 volt)
  • AAA battery pack + wires
  • Small weight (a clothespin will do)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tape (Scotch or electrical will be fine)
  • Needlenose pliers

For younger children parental supervision is recommended given the use of the hot glue gun and pliers.

Steps:

  • Set the motor-to-battery connection using the pliers to connect the wires to the electrical ports. Use tape if needed
  • Insert AAA batteries into the battery pack
  • The motor should be spinning at this point!
  • Attach the clothespin or other small weight to the motor to make it vibrate
  • Glue the motor and battery pack to the top of the scrub brush
  • Watch your scrub brush go!

It isn’t a tough project for young children to complete and packs a bunch of education into a short time. If you have multiple children they can each create their own brush and race them. Bonus points if they use blocks to create a race track.

Engineering

This next project is a twist on a party favorite. If you’ve ever done an egg race at a party this project should get you excited. Introducing the egg drop (not the soup).

The objective with this project is to create a contraption that will prevent an egg from breaking when dropped.

I don’t really have any recommendations on supplies for this project. My advice is to grab a few eggs from the fridge. Make breakfast and let the kids crack the eggs. If they have never done this before they will realize just how fragile the egg shell is.

Next, task your kids with finding supplies around the house to create a protective device for their egg. With the supplies gathered it’s time to employ some record keeping.

Each child, and the parents, should sketch out their design and then write down what they think will happen and why. If the egg won’t break, what is the reason?

With your sketches and predictions out of the way get to building. Use tape, glue, straws, and everything else you’ve found to create your egg protector.

Once everyone is done place the devices on the table. Each person should explain what they’ve built and why it will protect the egg. Everyone can then write down their own thoughts on what will happen. Make it fun by holding a secret vote on which device will be the best.

Now comes the moment the kids have been waiting for!

Hold the devices containing an egg out at chest height and drop them. If the egg breaks that device is eliminated from the event. If the egg doesn’t break that device moves to the next round. Drop the egg from a higher position. Keep going until one egg protector remains.

This is a fun experiment because who doesn’t like breaking eggs. More important is that kids learn about forming and testing hypothesis and getting creative with household supplies. They also learn how to evaluate their work. If their device failed on the first try, what could they do next time to make it better?

Math

We couldn’t conclude a list of STEM projects for kids without including some math. Normally people don’t associate math with fun. Let’s change that!

A word of caution: this activity is fun, but isn’t for young children as it contains watermelon seeds.

Supplies:

  • Watermelon with seeds
  • Chalk
  • Measuring tape

Steps:

  • Eat the watermelon and put the seeds to the side
  • Head outside and draw a starting line on the pavement with the chalk
  • Have the kids measure off distances in 50 inch increments using the measuring tape
  • Spit the seeds and see who can go the furthest

Like I mentioned, young children who might swallow the seeds should sit this one out.

To incorporate math into this project you can do a few things:

  • Measure and calculate the average distance per person
  • Graph the distances of all the seeds
  • Draw a target and calculate the probability of landing in certain zones
  • Assess if the height and age of the person impacts how far a seed will travel

This is a fun outdoor activity that gets everyone out of the house. It also gets everyone eating watermelon which is a tasty and healthy snack. Combine outdoors, learning, and healthy food and I’d say you have a winner!


Get creative and I bet you can think of tons of fun STEM projects for kids. The important thing is finding a project that is educational and fun. This will help the lessons stick longer and will also give your kids something to talk about with their friends. You may just end up influencing more than your own child in a positive way.

If you’ve been asking yourself “what is STEM?” you aren’t alone. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is an acronym to describe these four academic fields. The term has been around for years and continues to remain on the top of many parent and educator priority lists. STEM-first schools get positive press coverage, government officials love to mention it when discussing education initiatives, and almost every parenting magazine covers the topic at some time or another.

Why Is STEM Important?

Parents want what is best for their children. If I’d never heard of STEM and you told me I should get my kids involved in STEM activities I might shrug. However, if you then told me it could lead to better odds of acceptance into good universities and a sound career I might listen up. STEM has become so popular for a rather depressing reason.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) measures the ability of 15-year-olds around the world in subjects such as reading, math, and science. The goal is to see how well kids are prepared for the real world.

As of the 2018 PISA study kids here in the United States scored better than average in reading and science, but below average in math. While this at first might seem positive, it’s worth pointing out that our mean performance has had no significant improvement since 2000 (reading), 2003 (math), and 2006 (science).

Source: PISA 2018

Test taking might not be fun and certainly won’t predict a child’s future potential. What we should take away from the study is that we are doing good, but not great. As a nation we could do much better. The problem with the lack of significant progress is that high-paying tech jobs in the U.S. will go unfilled by Americans. This isn’t to say that we should adopt a xenophobic mindset that only America has great minds for tech jobs. Rather it is important as parents to prepare our kids so that when it comes time to land that sweet job at a tech company with cool perks and awesome pay, our kids can compete with a global talent pool.

Introducing Your Kids to STEM

If you recognize the importance of a strong STEM foundation you might also ask how you can help your children. For parents that already have STEM careers this might seem simple. However, not all parents have this experience. Even if you aren’t the nerdiest of nerdy dads you can still play a leading role in helping your kids develop STEM skills.

Schools Aren’t Always Doing It Right

Many parents believe that when they send their kids to school each morning they are getting the education they need. This really depends on the school your child attends. In some cases this is probably true. Unfortunately, in many instances this isn’t the case.

Take the time to review the school’s curriculum. If you don’t feel appropriate time is being given to STEM subjects you may need to be more proactive in your child’s education. Assuming you can’t teach the skills yourself at home, try finding after school programs. Here are some suggestions:

  • StemForKids – around since 2011 they specialize in engineering and computer sciences courses
  • Mathnasium – provides online and in-person math courses for students in elementary through high school
  • Khan Academy – covers STEM content as well as arts, economics, and life skills
  • MakerKids – provides virtual after-school programs with a max class size of 5 students

Supplementing your child’s education at their normal school with some of the above can help them develop new and valuable skills faster than their peers.

Find Fun STEM Activities

Learning might not always sound fun for kids. It’s important to find activities that capture and keep their attention. Coding games for kids can be used for just this purpose. These games will introduce your children to coding concepts. Many start with basic drag-and-drop activities so kids aren’t discouraged. Lessons build up to text-based coding. Your kids will learn how to develop games and their own websites.

Using games is only one such activity. You can find board games, like chess, that also foster STEM skill development. It’s also helpful to look around town for some fun activities. Maker events can be extremely exciting. At these events kids can go around and play with all sorts of gadgets. By its very nature the maker movement requires a curious mind. Makers can be of any age and they love to talk about their project. If your child can’t stop asking “why” take them to a maker event. Their curiosity will be satisfied at least for a little while.

Discover Activities Your Kid Enjoys

Not all kids learn the same way. Some enjoy hands-on activities and can’t stand to read a guide. Others will read the guide twice and watch a bunch of tutorials before diving in. It isn’t necessary to debate what the “best” way to learn is since we are all different. What is necessary is find the activities that help your child learn best.

If your child likes to explore the outdoors than go for a hike and bring along a book to learn about leaves. This could lead to a career in science later in life. Is your child a constant tinkerer? Pick up a STEM DIY kit and let them go at it till they succeed. Museums, summer camps, and similar activities can all bring excitement to learning something new.


STEM subjects are important and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. The good news is that parents can play an active and important role in their child’s education. Make learning fun and your child will have a distinct advantage as they enter college and the workforce. Even more important is that they will have developed useful skills and confidence all while expanding their minds. That is a win on multiple levels.

Coding is increasingly becoming a crucial element of a child’s education. Parents understandably are looking for different ways to help kids develop coding skills at home. Coding apps for kids is just one of many available resources along with coding games for kids.

With increased demand from parent, I’ve seen a surge in coding apps for kids. The apps serve to introduce kids to coding fundamentals. Some of these apps are designed for children as young as three! Many of the popular apps focus on introducing children to the logic of coding. However, some apps will focus on specific languages. Regardless of the app used many teach the same fundamentals. Children learn about loops, “if-then” statements, variables, and conditionals. Keeping a young child’s attention is no easy task. Most of these apps use fun characters and a story to keep kids engaged.

Apps are an amazing resource for learning. For starters, they can be used wherever you go so long as your phone or tablet is present. This convenience is very much appreciated on longer car rides. Personally, I prefer handing over a tablet knowing it will be used for educational purposes and not mindless YouTube videos.

There are numerous coding apps for kids on the market. This article is designed to help dads select the best app for their kids. The apps are broken into categories for elementary, middle, and high school so you are sure to find something for everyone in the family.

Coding Apps for Kids

Elementary School

Code Karts

First up we have Code Karts. Available on Android and iOS with the appealing price of $0 (some in-app purchases can be made) this is a great starter app for a young learner. Your child will use drag-and-drop code to navigate a race car around a track. No prior coding skills are required and children that cannot yet read won’t be at a disadvantage. Kids will master the first 10 levels, all free, by matching colors. Spend just $1.99 and you will get 70+ additional levels with increased difficulty.

No racing game is complete with out a bit of competition. Players can race other cars around the track to test their coding speed.

Kodable

Kodable introduces your child to a friendly family of aliens that have crash-landed on a new planet. This new world is covered in mazes and it’s the player’s job to help the aliens explore the land. Kids use drag-and-drop blocks to guide the aliens on their journey.

With Kodable kids will develop logic and critical thinking skills. They are also introduced to JavaScript and Swift, actual programming languages used by professionals.

Kodable is currently on iOS and does require a subscription. The lifetime subscription is $120 and includes up to four player profiles. You can also select monthly billing at $6.99/month.

SpriteBox

Playing games with your children is one of the best parts of being a dad. If you and your kids enjoy Mario then you will love learning with SpriteBox! This 2D adventure game is similar in style to Mario, but teaches kids how to code. They start with simple drag-and-drop tasks and work up to learning proper syntax. Completing the adventure is achievable for young learners with some curveballs that might even stump dad!

Middle School

Sphero Edu

Using the Sphero Edu app (iOS and Android) kids can control one of multiple Sphero robots. A personal favorite is the mini R2-D2 and BB-8 from Star Wars. The robots are durable, waterproof, and great for kids in middle school. If you have younger children around you will need to be sure small pieces, such as balls and capsules used in the robot, don’t become snacks.

Sphero provides a bit of something for everybody with levels for different coding abilities. Kids can decide to start with drawing paths and using drag-and-drop blocks and eventually get into writing text-based code.

While fun and engaging, Sphero does require some financial commitment. The app is free but you will need to pop for the robots. If you’re a DIY-er this is a great opportunity to introduce your kids to the maker movement and learn coding at the same time!

Hopscotch

Hopscotch is great because it isn’t limited to just coding practice. Kids can develop multiple other STEM skills and pick up some artistic skills as well. This is really an app that a child can use for a long time to learn and develop new skills. Your kids will have the chance to control and command the actions of numerous characters including designs and illustrations.

It’s been said that sharing is caring. I agree and it’s also a great way to receive feedback and improve yourself. With Hopscotch kids will be able to share their creations, such as games, with an online community. They will enjoy the feedback from the community and have a confidence booster as they see their creation brining joy to others.

Hopscotch has a few drawbacks. For starters it’s only on iOS and does require a subscription of $7.99/month for advanced levels. The app is also more open-ended compared to others on the list. If your child is a creative type and likes to explore this is a great app for them! Kids that require a bit more structure might find the open-endedness a bit less exciting and possibly frustrating.

High School

Robozzle

Are your kids into logic puzzles? Do they enjoy some of the old school arcade games we enjoyed as kids, such as Pac-Man? If so then you’ve done a great job introducing them to classic games! Oh, and they should check out Robozzle. In this game kids will explore literally thousands of levels as they learn about conditionals.

Designed to foster out of the box thinking, Robozzle puzzles will require your kids to analyze different perspectives when solving a problem. I know this is an article on coding apps for kids, but parents might even find this one entertaining. The free version is great and you can make in-app purchases to get advanced features.

Codea

Codea is available on the iPad and is similar in style to Hopscotch. Users create interactive games and graphics using the Lua programming language. Using simple touch commands the user creates code from various menus. Adding your own sounds, images, and characters make the game that much more exciting.

The graphics are impressive, but the UI is a bit difficult. Be warned that younger children might quickly lose interest.


Kids can learn how to code with a ton of resources available online. Tutorials and videos are fun and engaging. Introducing apps to their learning will help teach new skills while reinforcing those already developed. With how much time kids spend on devices these days encouraging them to spend some of that time learning is a wise move. Some of these games, such as Robozzle, will provide enough entertainment that kids won’t view it as traditional learning.

Drop a note in the comments below if you feel I’ve missed an amazing app for this list.

If your child has been wanting to learn how to code in Python, or if you want to encourage the activity, it’s helpful to have a list of resources to learn Python. Learning a new programming language is an exciting activity. Knowing where to turn when questions inevitably arise can help make the journey fun.

Why Your Child Should Learn Python

There are more coding languages than I can count on my fingers and toes. When deciding on the first language it can feel overwhelming. While everyone has their own opinion, I like to recommend Python for beginners. It’s great for kids and adults alike.

If you’ve been contemplating teaching your kids Python, but need a few good reasons I have you covered.

Numerous reasons exist, but I’ll keep it short and sweet here.

  1. Python is beginner-friendly because it’s easy to understand, even for those without prior programming experience
  2. Your child can grow with Python, unlike other languages that are graphical and designed specifically for beginners

I’ll note that the graphical programming languages, such as Scratch, are great for young learners! These languages help kids understand the basics of coding and how things fit together. Many of the graphical languages use blocks and arrows so the learner can visualize what is taking place.

While Scratch and similar languages are great for beginners your child will eventually outgrow them. With Python, your child can learn it today and land a job as a developer after college.

The Best Way To Teach Your Kids Python

Everyone learns a little bit differently. Some people need to read an instruction manual before getting started while others just dive in. No one approach is right. I’ve actually found using multiple approaches to be the most beneficial. But that’s just me.

When it comes to kids it’s a bit different. They need something that will grab their attention and keep them engaged. Thankfully, a number of coding apps, games, and websites exist to make education fun!

Here are a few other suggestions to make learning Python fun for your kids that I’ve found work well.

Gamification makes learning fun even for adults. Once a child has mastered a skill they will quickly grow bored if they aren’t challenged. I recommend finding coding competitions and boot camps. The competition is exhilarating and allows your child to shine as they get better and better.

Find project-based learning activities. Think about how many tech products began because someone wanted to find a solution to their own problem. If your child has the basics of Python down they can easily start to create code for their own use. Why not try creating a simple web app that lists chores to be done and those already done. For older learnings, they can create a budget or exercise tracker. These don’t have to be fancy. The real prize is the learning that occurs.

Encourage weekly, if not daily, practice. This might sound obvious, but it’s important. Learning how to code requires that the learner adopt a new way of thinking. Easy as Python is to learn, it will still require practice. By practicing your child will see themselves improve much faster than if they skip practice. This makes it fun as they advance and are amazed at their own skills.

Resources To Learn Python

This is what you’ve been waiting for! Here I’ll share some of my favorite resources to learn Python for kids. I’ll break them into groups for games, classes, and online tutorials.

Games To Learn Python

Code Combat is first up on the list. Their global community of 12 million learner who have cranked out 1+ billion lines of code are testament that Code Combat is a legit resource. Kids will write code that moves a character. It’s an easy introduction for new learners and the games keep a child’s attention.

PyGame allows kids to build a game. This is super cool and something even dads will enjoy! Building the game takes place over a series of short lessons. The snick-sized bites of education are great for kids since you learn a little bit at a time. Code is provided for kids to follow. Of course, those natural tinkerers can edit the code to see what happens. Don’t forget to check out some other, non-Python related activities that use Raspberry Pi.

Classes To Learn Python

A platform that I’ve used and love is Udemy. They provide an online platform with courses for Python and tons of other subjects. Instructors tend to be subject matter experts and all courses are reviewed by Udemy before being published. Consider that the courses do require payment. However, you can find many quality courses for $50 or less. Cheaper than a video game and more educational at that!

Tynker is another great resource for learning Python and other coding languages. I like that Tynker breaks their lessons into age categories. Current age brackets are 5-7, 8-13, and 14+. Kids will develop coding skills over a series of classes. The final product is building a game.

Online Tutorials To Learn Python

Practice like you are playing a real match is a mindset I’ve always liked. When it comes to online tutorials I like how Hour of Python by Trinket presents learners with real-world problems that a professional might encounter. Start with some free lessons and then jump into the challenges. A great feature not found too frequently is that lessons are available in Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.

With a name like Practice Python you know they have some Python goodness. They provide over 30 beginner lessons complete with a topic discussion and solution. Some of the lessons include games, such as hangman, that kids know and enjoy.


The internet provides a ton of resources to learn Python, many of which are kid-friendly. If you’ve been tossing around the idea of teaching your child how to code now is a great time to start. Check out these resources and don’t forget to share your favorites in the comments below.

One of the best parts about being a parent is watching children learn something new. For me one of those exciting moments was when I started teaching my kids how to code. I’ve been asked by non-coding friends if they should teach their kids Python. If the child in question has show an interest in computers and coding I would say yes.

Python is a great language for beginners to learn. As we will see it’s user friendly and not tough to start creating fun little programs. The early years of childhood and adolescence are crucial in a child’s life. What happens in these early years will impact future life and career choices. While I don’t think every child should grow up to be a programmer, learning the basics has many benefits. From analytical thinking to problem solving, just scratching the surface of how to code can impart valuable lessons.

If you want to bring the magic of programming to your children starting with Python is an excellent choice.

Beginner-Friendly

As a beginner nothing is more frustrating that concepts that are too complex to grasp. Thankfully, Python doesn’t have this issue. C++, Java, and other languages have complex syntax and structures. This may prove difficult for a beginner to understand and discourage their learning. More than one person has tried to learn how to code and stopped because of these early setbacks.

Python thankfully doesn’t have this issue. The language is intuitive and text-based with a concise syntax. Unlike other languages, the Python syntax is fairly easy for humans to read.

When it comes to kids Python is a great introductory language. It frequently proves to be a stepping stone to other, more complex languages. Like many crafts a strong foundation is core to future success. Python can provide this foundation in a fun and beginner-friendly environment.

Easy To Set Up

Setting up a new Integrated Development Environment (IDE) can be a major pain even for an experienced programmer. Python doesn’t require a special development environment. If you have a computer at home and can access the internet you can start learning Python.

You can get started by downloading the software from the official Python website. Once you’ve downloaded the software you will run the installer and then jump into the interpreter to start coding.

For an easier introduction consider one of the many online learning courses. You can go to sources like YouTube and Coursera to start learning. You can also look at sites such as CodeMonkey for fun games that teach kids how to code in Python.

Growing Demand

We all want our kids to develop skills that will someday allow them to land a great job. Python is one such skill a child can develop early that will help later in life. Aside from the analytical and critical thinking skills, Python is also in high demand.

Python tops the hackr.io list of best programming languages to learn in 2020. Ease of learning was a consideration, but also projected future job demand. Python has unseated PHP (2017), C# (2018), and Java (2019) as the fastest-growing language. Consider Python was first released in the ’80s this is pretty good for an “old” language.

As the final bit of icing on the cake, Python developers can earn anywhere from $60K up to $110K+ per year. Not a shabby living at all!

Top programming language
Source: PYPL

Career Opportunities

In addition to commanding respectable salaries, Python developers have the luxury of working at a variety of companies. Facebook and Google, for example, use the language to develop new products. NASA, Amazon, Netflix, and many other big companies are also looking for Python talent.

These companies will continue to grow and so will their demand. Knowing how fast tech entrepreneurs innovate it is reasonable to expect when your kids are ready to land a job a new hotshot tech company might hire them.

Python likely won’t be the only language your child picks up over their career. Starting with this language is a good first step towards future learning and development.

Python Is Popular

Being such a popular programming language has a few benefits. The biggest benefit for new programmers is that you can find answers to almost every question online. The Python community is known for being friendly. Ask a question on a forum and you will get a bunch of helpful responses.

Naturally you want to ensure your kids are asking questions in a safe area and that the responses are helpful. I live by Stack Overflow. They have over 1.5 million questions tagged as Python. The responses tend to come fast and are typically helpful. Stack is also a safer area to ask questions as opposed to Reddit or other forums. Folks going to Stack Overflow are going for one reason: to ask, answer, or find solutions to coding questions.

Python Is Versatile

Python can be used across a variety of industries and for numerous applications. Interested in data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or big data? Learning Python and the accompanying libraries will be a huge step in the right direction!

When parents teach their kids python the children are learning more than syntax and structure. They are also learning how to develop automation tasks (very helpful!), game development, and much more. With even a bit of basic knowledge your child can begin building websites and basic games.

By virtue of its versatility Python encourages children to be creative and think outside the box. Kids can build a website or game and then get creative with expanding their creation. More advanced learners might consider integrating their love of coding with robotics. With a bit of effort and ingenuity your children could be creating some awesome robotic devices while still in high school!


When parents ask if they should teach their kids Python I’m always happy to discuss the pros of the language. Learning how to code can be tricky. Python provides a friendly introduction to coding which I find wonderful. It’s a skill that can be used throughout life even if you aren’t doing it professionally. The skills developed from learning how to code can help in almost any career. If your kids have expressed an interest in learning I’d say go for it! You can find plenty of free resources online to get them started. Honestly, the best way to learn is by doing.

Happy coding and don’t forget to check our site frequently. We’re building out a kid-friendly intro to Python course. We’ll be posting bite-sized lessons that will take your kids through many of the basics. From understanding variables and syntax to creating their first program.

Our world is dominated by social media. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to many of us. Think about your family, friends, and even yourself. Odds are that you alone have a few social media profiles. One of the joys of these new social channels is that they are open to everyone. Grandparents can see real-time images from a grandchild’s soccer match. Brothers can continue silly rivalries even though they live in different states (not that I’d know about that ;). A pressing question for many parents, however, is should children be allowed to use social media?

While some of the benefits I mentioned above are clear, social media also presents some risks. Parents are right to question if their children should be allowed to create social profiles. If it is allowed parents must also contemplate rules and guidelines that children must follow.

Some risks to using social media include exposure to fake news and oversharing personal information. It isn’t to say that children do these things on purpose. Most of the time it’s an accident and a bad actor on the other side of the screen is taking advantage of a young person’s naivety.

In this post I’ll examine some of the risks to social media and propose some countermeasures to keep kids safe. At the end of the day, the answer will depend on you and your family’s unique circumstances.

Social Media Usage Risks

Unhealthy Screen Time

Let’s start out with an easy one. No child, or parent for that matter, should be spending hours endlessly scrolling through social media. This leads to numerous bad side effects such as eye strain, poor posture, and weight gain due to lack of exercise. Heavy usage of social media can also lead to poor communication skills in the real world.

For my family we discuss healthy screen time habits and set boundaries. I know from experience that we sometimes need rules to keep us from over indulging in our screens. For many years I would spend hours working in front of a screen. When work was over I’d keep on going playing games or working on side projects. In the end I gained weight, got a slouch in my shoulders, and damaged my eyes. It was all around a bad outcome. I’m not saying this will happen to your children, but it is a risk to be considered.

Social media can be good, but like ice cream, only in moderation. Spend some time each day checking in with family and friends. Then return to more productive and active tasks.

Online Predators

I really wish this wasn’t on the list, but it is. Get any group of people together and someone, somewhere will try to profit. Add into the mix easy targets who lack knowledge on how to protect themselves and the situation is made worse. I’m not a fan of turning social media into a boogeyman, but parents and children should have discussions about how to stay safe online.

Online safety education helps children understand how potential attackers might make an advance and other safety tips. I always recommend making this conversation open and honest. Don’t overblow the possibilities, but also don’t sugar coat the facts. Being online is a responsibility, not a right. Children should receive proper education to keep themselves safe online.

Cyberbullying

Children are exposed to more today than I ever was. With a search and a click they can find themselves in some interesting spots online. While inappropriate content is bad, cyberbullying is a particular area of concern for me. Kids can be made to feel like the entire world is against them for someone else’s amusement. A frank discussion on what to do if your child is being cyberbullied is important. Kids must know that negative Facebook posts aren’t the end of the world. When you’re a teenager it may feel that way. As parents we need to keep the lines of communication open and learn to spot signs of cyberbullying.

While we all endeavor to raise little angels, it’s important to also look for signs that your child is a cyberbully. While an uncomfortable thought we owe it to our child and their target to take action if we have valid suspicions.

Social Media Usage Benefits

Social Interaction

The question of should children be allowed to use social media shouldn’t focus only on the downside. One of the best parts about social media is that it’s social. Kids can connect with friends and family from around the world. This is an extraordinary opportunity. Online friendships can turn into real world connections at school and in the workplace.

The interactive nature of social media also means that kids can learn about other cultures. No longer do pen pals have to wait for a letter to be mailed. Kids eager to learn about foreign cultures can connect with others their own age to trade stories. MyLanguageExchange has a pen pal feature that allows you to search for a pen pal by country and other filters. This is also a great way to encourage your child to learn a foreign language!

Sharp Analytical Skills

How does one learn how to spot an online scam quickly? By seeing lots of online scams.

I certainly don’t wish that anyone fall victim to an online scam. However, these do exist and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. Children who have spent time on social media and around the web are more savvy at spotting a fraud. This is because they have had more exposure to scams and know what to look for.

This may sound counter-intuitive for some parents. Isn’t our job to shield our children from scams and harm? The answer is yes, but it’s also our job to ensure as they get older we provide them with the tools and knowledge to fend for themselves. This means helping them understand that an African prince doesn’t really want to send them a boat of gold coins in exchange for $500.

In addition to scams children who have had exposure to social media and proper guidance will also be better at spotting fake news. This is a problem today and will only get worse. Kids who grow able to quickly spot fake news, or at least fact check what they read, will be much better off than those without these skills.


So, should children be allowed to use social media? The answer will ultimately depend on your family and personal beliefs. Social media usage can be good or bad as I’ve outlined above. It depends on your particular approach and the education your children receive on proper usage. If you’re still on the fence then start small. Give your child small social media freedoms and increase these freedoms as they are earned. This will help build confidence, awareness, and savvy for using social tools and other online resources.

Technology has done a lot to make our lives easier. From instant communication to being able to find an answer to nearly any question in seconds. From cellphones to tablets, gaming devices and computers our homes are filled with tech gadgets. While useful in many ways it is tough to deny that technology has made parenting harder.

Each gadget presents a new threat and a new opportunity. Those of you who enjoy SWOT analysis might have fun creating a parenting with tech SWOT.

Many advances in tech make parenting easier. Anyone with a tablet, a young child, and the need to take a long car trip knows what I’m talking about. However, challenges still exist. Read on to discover some of the challenges tech presents and suggestions for solutions.

How Technology Has Made Parenting Harder

Tech As A Carrot And A Stick

Next time you head to the store or go out to eat, try to count how many children have a device. It doesn’t matter if it’s a phone, a tablet, or something else. Odds are you’ll see way more kids with gadgets than you might expect. It’s admittedly easy to hand a device to a frustrated child and let them watch a show. Devices have become the babysitter that doesn’t eat out of the fridge or forget to turn lights off.

It’s true that technology can benefit children. It’s when parents start to hand over traditional parenting duties to tech that problems arise. Tech can be used as a reward (the carrot), such as when a child earns good grades. It can also be used as a punishment (the stick) if those grades aren’t so hot.

Rather than teaching a child to perform just to receive some instant gratification, I recommend helping your child internalize why good performance is important. We don’t want good grades so we can play an extra hour of Angry Birds. We want good grades because that will help us later in life and is a source of pride.

Tracking

Information overload occurs when a person just has too much info at their disposal. It’s an overload because they can’t possibly manage to make sense of every last detail. With the plethora of child activity tracking apps, digital school reports, internet monitoring and more it’s tough to decide what to focus on. Maybe your child’s physical location is the most important. Maybe it’s grades. Regardless, tech can overwhelm when we have too many options.

This presents an issue for parents and children. Parents might end up spending money on paid apps and then feel compelled to always check them. That’s a big time commitment. Children, on the other hand, might feel an invasion of privacy. This makes it tough to be a kid.

Expanding on that last point, let’s go back in time. As a kid I knew dinner was at 6. If I got my homework done I could go out and play with neighborhood friends. However, I best be home by 6 if I wanted to eat. My parents didn’t have an app to track me. They trusted that I would behave and stay out of trouble. Like any kid I mostly stayed out of trouble. If I did mess up too much you better believe my parents would hear about it from a neighbor. This allowed me to explore my own freedom with some boundaries.

When someone is looking over your shoulder all the time it’s tough to be yourself. How many of us working from home feel this way when a manager wants to check in throughout the day via video?

New Threats

Back in the day we heard about Stranger Danger. Parents told us not to talk to strangers, don’t take gifts from strangers and certainly don’t get in their vehicle.

Pretty straight forward stuff. That is no longer the case.

Today parents have to worry about physical and cyber threats. From online predators trying to find children to bad actors committing fraud, the threat landscape has expanded.

Technology has made parenting harder because we now have to worry about who our children are talking with online and the content they are consuming. This also includes the unfortunate incidents of cyberbullying.

It’s impossible to guard against every possible threat, so it falls to parents to decide what is most important. This could involve setting strict internet usage rules. Parents could also require their children receive frequent talks on how to stay safe online.

It’s tough since tech changes at such a rapid pace. However, this is just one of the additional considerations parents have in a tech-first world.

Decisions, Decisions

You’d think with all the tech in the world parenting decisions would be automated. A smooth if…then algorithm to answer all our parenting questions. If only life was that easy.

The increase in decisions is yet another way that technology has made parenting harder for the modern parents. With the number of options, from devices to usage rules, it can be tough to set boundaries. Is it acceptable to stay up late on the computer if it’s for a school project? What about if that project requires collaboration with classmates? Should children be allowed to have social media accounts? If so, do parents get a say in what is posted and who is friended?

Those are all tough decisions that we have to make each day. This can be tricky as kids seem to pick up new tech with little trouble. As your kids grow and know more about tech than you do it can be tough to make the right decisions.

The Learning Opportunity

Part of the solution to this issue is teaching kids how to make the right decision from a young age. If we as parents can impart good morals and sound decision making some of the burden is lifted as children age. They know, for example, that responding to an email claiming they’ve won $100K is a bad idea. We don’t have to set email restrictions because we’ve taught them what is acceptable and what isn’t. Same for social media. Maybe we monitor accounts when children are first using the platforms. As we advise and guide them the hope would be that they pick up on good habits. They are then able to make the correct decision for themselves.


I’m the first to admit that I love tech and all it has provided for in my life. A career, entertainment, and more cat videos than I’ll ever watch. However, it has admittedly made life a bit more challenging. This is especially true from a parent’s perspective. While I don’t advocate for a no-tech rule in any household, it is important for parents to educate themselves on the risks inherent in using any device.

Yes, technology has made parenting harder. We can still manage as parents by deciding what is acceptable, how you will inform your kids of the risks, and by staying well-educated.

It’s October 2nd so that means we are only 29 days away from Halloween! This is one of my favorite times of the year. A night full of candy, costumes, and everyone acting like kids. We’ve dug around to find some of the best nerdy dad Halloween costumes at a store or website near you. Check out our list and don’t forget to share your Nerdy Dad pics on our Twitter account (@nerdydadsco).

Top Nerdy Dad Halloween Costumes

The Classic Nerd

First up is your class nerd. Yes he has the high pants, big bow tie, and glasses with tape.

I’ll say the good thing is that being a nerd is different today. No longer the butt of jokes, nerds rule the world! From gaming to computers and the smartphone you’re reading this on nerds have contributed a lot to the world. So if you are in the mood to wave your nerd flag proudly this is the costume for you.

Be sure to go all the way with it and include the pocket protector. If anyone makes a joke you can calmly point out how you don’t have one pen mark on your shirt. Who is laughing now.

Pick up this jumpsuit at HalloweenCostumes.com for $39.99.

Wayne Szalinski

Let’s go back to the end of the ’80s. In 1989 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was released staring Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinski. The original was a hit at the box office and even held the title of Disney’s highest-grossing live-action film for five years.

Now it’s your turn to channel the hilarious and quirky Szalinkski, the inventor who accidentally shrinks his kids.

You can quickly and inexpensively pull this costume together. Stop at your local Wal-Mart, Target, Goodwill or any other store. All you’ll need is:

  • Red-rimmed glasses
  • Dress shirt (solid or small windowpane)
  • Khaki pants
  • Brown dress shoes and a belt

How far you want to take it is up to you. I’d encourage some type of odd head gear that looks like you’re trying to call Mars. If you really want to goo all out you can paint small figures to look like your actual kids. Keep these in your pocket to get a good laugh out of friends and colleagues.

The one area I can’t actually help with is the shrinking ray. If you do happen to come across one please let me know!

Dark Helmet

My mind must be focused on Rick Moranis because here he comes again as Dark Helmet in the movie Spaceballs.

Besides making us laugh, and sometimes cringe, Dark Helmet is an excellent nerdy dad Halloween costume! He’s funny, goofy, and the outfit won’t be tough to make. Stop by any Halloween costume outlet and grab an extra large Darth Vader outfit. If you’re a DIY type of dad creating the helmet with your kids can be a fun weekend project.

While this post is supposed to light-hearted I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to form stronger passwords than Dark Helmet. 1-2-3-4-5 is a bad password for your online accounts and your luggage. To quote the famous Dark Helmet:

1-2-3-4-5? That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard of in my life! That’s the kinda thing an idiot would have on his luggage!

Sheldon Lee Cooper Ph.D., Sc.D.

The Big Bang Theory is one of those shows I can watch over and over again. The characters and plot just make me laugh without control.

If you’re looking to go nerdy this Halloween, but also want to have some pop-culture reference your children might understand then Sheldon is your character. He’s smart, funny, and no one could argue he isn’t nerdy.

For dads looking to involve your kids in your costume decision Sheldon presents the perfect opportunity. Dad goes as Sheldon. Your child goes as Young Sheldon. It’s perfect for a fun and collaborative costume design.

Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown

Last, but not least, in our nerdy dad Halloween costumes review is Doc Brown from Back to the Future.

Released in 1985 this movie is still one of my all-time favorites 35 years later. I guess others agree because in 2008 the good Doc was selected one of the 100 greatest movie characters of all time by Empire magazine.

A Doc Brown costume doesn’t have to be elaborate. Get some out of control long white hair, a lab coat, and make some crazy eyes. You’ve pretty much got what you need! If you happen to own a DeLorean I believe this costume might be required 😉


Halloween is a fun time of year! Candy and dressing up in whatever you can imagine is a fun way to relax. And let’s be honest, we all need to take some extra time to relax and enjoy life after the way 2020 has behaved. No matter what you decide to be this Halloween I hope you and your family have fun.

Now, get to making some costumes and don’t forget to stock up on candy. Kit-Kat or Butterfingers is always my favorite.

One of the best things about kids is that they are up to try anything. It’s no secret that some of our best learning comes at an early age. Part of this is the lack of fear of failure and also the sense of adventure that comes with being young. With many of the low code and no code solutions available today, more online business ideas for kids exist than ever before. With a little assistance from mom and dad any child can become an entrepreneur.

Why Kids Should Start An Online Business

I’ve written at length about how technology can help build a child’s confidence. From joining the maker movement to learning how to type tech can be empowering for a young mind. Becoming an entrepreneur at a young age also carries other benefits.

Entrepreneurship teaches responsibility. Children will have to learn how to be responsible to their clients. This is true of the sidewalk lemonade stand and the young website builder. Hitting deadlines, keeping promises, and providing quality services will all be lessons quickly learned.

Saving for college as well as other purchases youngsters like to make. A first car, a trip with friends, or the latest iPhone. Regardless of what your child wants to save for they will quickly realize the value of a dollar. Learning that it takes work to buy the things they enjoy in life is an invaluable lesson to learn at a young age.

Learning to sell is a huge benefit. Regardless of your feelings on sales we are all a salesperson at one point or another. Even if it is selling ourselves during a job interview. Mastering the art of clearly and concisely conveying benefits of a product or service will be helpful later in life.

Many online businesses can be started with little capital investment. Digital businesses can be built using many open source and free tools. Children can get started with as little as $100 on many businesses. It’s a small investment to make for the education and potential upside if they manage to build up the business.

Online Business Ideas For Kids

Building Websites

web development

Building a website today is much easier than in the past. You don’t have to master HTML and CSS to build something beautiful. Solutions such as WordPress and Wix provide user-friendly website builders that require little, if any, coding skills. A child could practice building a site of their own. Once they have one site in their portfolio it’s time to get selling.

Going around to local businesses is a great start. Spend time with your child creating a list of local businesses. Next, see if they have a website. If they don’t then you have a prospect. Many basic websites cost around $1,500 from a development firm. Your child could offer to create a site for $500 and charge more as they gain experience.

Useful skills gained include:

  • Sales skills
  • Customer service
  • Troubleshooting & problem solving
  • Web development

With a web development firm your child could easily build one site a month for local businesses. At $500/site that is $6,000 per year! I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many kids pulling down that type of dough.

Graphic Designer

So your kid is more artistic and creative? Then how about a graphic design business.

Many mom and pop businesses cannot hire an in-house graphic designer. They may have paid for a logo years ago and haven’t taken the time to give it a refresh. Your child could make a few bucks and help out local shops by providing graphic design services.

With a bit of training anyone can pickup Photoshop, starting at $9.99/mo., or Canva (free!) and be in business.

After your child has exhausted the supply of local businesses they can use online freelance sites such as Fiverr to find additional gigs. Parents are encouraged to keep an eye on any online accounts created to ensure your child doesn’t fall victim to any scams or other bad actors.

The earnings potential can be high with graphic designers charging $15-$50 depending on their portfolio and skill level. At the high end a teenager working 6 hours over the weekend and charging $50/hour will clear $300 per weekend or $1,200/mo! Not to shabby for someone who hasn’t even hit college yet.

Useful skills gained include:

  • Graphic design & creativity
  • Industry software (Photoshop or similar)
  • Client management

Online Merchant

Ecommerce storefront

If you get the sense your child has some merchant leanings then an eBay or Amazon storefront might be appealing. You could even set up shop using a service such as Shopify to create your own virtual store.

Setting up an online store can be exciting. Children must first decide what they want to sell. Items can be from around the house, purchased at garage sales and discovered flea markets. eBay is great for second hand items and tends to charge lower fees, around 10%, when an item sells. Amazon historically is around 15% in fees, though they do vary.

Useful skills gained include:

  • Negotiating
  • Pricing strategy
  • Writing sales copy

I encourage online storefronts with my kids because it teaches so many lessons. First they have to find a product that will sell. Their first hit was a cat statue that they drop shipped from AliExpress. However it took multiple attempts and failures before finding a winner. The kids also learned about pricing strategy. Too high and the item wouldn’t sell. Too low and you either have very slim margins or even lose money. It’s all about finding that middle ground.

Finally, I like that my children were exposed to negotiating. Dealing with multiple requests for price adjustments and deciding what is and isn’t acceptable. They also had to deal with a few unhappy customers when shipments were late. I screened all messages for profanity as some adults handle situations aggressively. The solution to the issue, however, was always up to the kids so they learned by experience.

Social Media Ad Management

Spend just a few minutes on Facebook or other social media and you know ads are all over the place. Someone has to write the copy and come up with a catchy advertisement. That could be your child.

Local businesses may understand the importance of having a Facebook page. What they might not understand is the importance of advertising and doing it properly. It isn’t just writing a headline and adding an image. Strategy must be used to target the proper audience and to send the correct message.

Useful skills gained include:

  • A/B testing
  • Strategy development
  • Data analysis

As with the prior examples your child could offer their services to local businesses. Managing ads will only take a few hours per week and doesn’t require any upfront costs. Your children will quickly learn the importance of creating ads that convert. By running split tests and analyzing data they also develop valuable skills for later in life.

Children that truly enjoy the work can take online certifications, such as the Facebook Blueprint Certifications. Having experience + certifications means your child will have a good shot at landing a job when they reach college. Working a few hours each week for an ad agency will be great experience and give your son or daughter a leg up on the competition once they graduate.

Taxes

Part of earning income is paying taxes. Once your child is earning more than $600 from their businesses it’s time to talk taxes. Discuss what taxes are and why they are required. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 25% of earned income. Quarterly payments aren’t required unless their tax liability is $1,000 or more.

It also should go without saying that everyone is unique. If your child does start earning substantial revenue with their business talk to your CPA or tax prep firm. This site is written by Nerdy Dads. We aren’t CPA’s or tax professionals so be sure to check with the pros.

Consider Age

Prior to starting any online business parents should take time to explain proper cyber security practices. If your child will be starting an online business they should know how to stay safe online and avoid unnecessary trouble. It’s also important to consider your child’s age and maturity. Many of the online business ideas for kids presented above are better suited for older children. If you have a teenager and a pre-teen it might be good for them to team up. Some sibling bonding never hurts and starting a business can be tough, so the support is helpful.


Numerous online business ideas for kids exist that are fairly easy and low cost to start. As parents it’s our job to expose our kids to various opportunities. We may find our children hate starting a business. That’s fine because it’s a learning event! On the flip side we might be stunned by how awesome they do. Either way we are providing an experience that will help our children learn more about the world and themselves. Not to mention it’s a great opportunity to spend time together.

No parent wants to hear that their child is being bullied. Today parents have to worry about more than a schoolyard bully as technology has brought about cyberbullying. If you’ve been asking yourself “what is cyberbullying?” you aren’t alone. Many parents have this question. Today we will take a look at how this threat occurs, some special concerns, and how to spot if your child may be a victim.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying where the bully uses devices such as smartphones and computers to attack their victim. The channels of attack are numerous, making this a difficult form of bullying to prevent. Bullies can use texts, apps, social media, chat forums, and even gaming sites. Any platform where content can be shared presents a risk of cyberbullying. While bullying from when I was a child involved shouts and fists, today a bully can use words and images to hurt others. We’ve all heard that sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true today as words can, and do, hurt.

Cyberbullying can involve sharing personal information about a victim, spreading false rumors, and causing a person to feel embarrassed or threatened. While it starts online some unfortunate cases have real world consequences.

Common places where cyberbullying takes place include:

  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.)
  • SMS and text messaging apps
  • Email
  • Gaming sites (Twitch, Mixer)
  • Online forums (Reddit)

The above is certainly not an exhaustive list, but is a good place to start for parents trying to speak with their kids about cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Special Concerns

No form of bullying is good. Cyberbullying comes with a few special concerns since this form of bullying is carried out via internet connected devices which dominate our lives. Using technology platforms such as social media creates a permanent digital record of our activities, likes/dislikes, friends, family, and behavior. This online record is easily accessible for others. The permanent nature of this record means that cyberbullies may be able to harm a victim today, but the consequences and pain can last for years.

A few concerns unique to cyberbullying include:

  1. Victims may have difficulty finding relief from bullies as we live in an always on and always connected society
  2. The permanence of digital content means victims could feel the impact years down the road when applying to college and jobs
  3. Victims may suffer in silence as parents and teachers may not see the damage being inflicted

The scariest part as a parent is the fact that I may not ever know bullying is taking place until it’s too late. Teachers seem to agree according to a January 2019 Google report that shows cyberbullying is the top online issue for kids in the classroom.

Parents must be on the lookout for warning signs to protect our kids from bullies and to prevent them from bullying others.

Warning Signs

Parents should watch for the following warning signs. Some help to identify if your child may be a victim. Other warnings might reveal that your child is bullying others.

Signs Your Child is a Victim

  • Increase in requests to avoid school and stay home
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Appears depressed
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Stops using their device (phone, gaming console, computer, etc.)
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Becomes overly secretive

Signs Your Child May Be Bullying Others

  • Exhibits an increased concern with popularity
  • Becomes unreasonably frustrated if they are denied access to their device
  • Uses more than one online account for no valid reason
  • Becomes withdrawn from family and friends
  • Increased behavioral issues at school
  • Won’t discuss what they are doing online
  • Becomes secretive with their device (e.g. hides the screen when you walk by)

Parents know their children best and should use discretion when broaching the subject of bullying. Children may not be comfortable admitting they are having trouble with another child. On the other hand no one likes being accused of bullying either. If you happen to notice the above behaviors then investigate further. Some parents may want to discuss the situation directly. Others may be more comfortable using a device monitoring app to gather information before confronting their child.

Regardless of the approach that you take it’s important to let your child know that if they are having trouble you are always available.


Every parent wants what is best for their children. In today’s digital world we must consider and defend against physical as well as cyber threats. Practicing proper online hygiene, like not sharing sensitive information, is a good start. We must also be diligent to know the warning signs of cyberbullying so that problems can be stopped before they get out of hand.