Why are exponents helpful
Exponents are used to note repeated multiplication. They are useful because they are used in formulas for area, volume, polynomials, and many other places in math. Anything that is used often enough in math ends up being deemed important, and then they force children to earn it in math class.
Exponents are the simply of showing a shorthand notation for multiplying the same number by itself several times so instead you put it to the power of something. e.g. 4x4x4 would be 4³