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The Source Code

A Blog on Learning Coding and STEM skills

Chess is an excellent tool for enhancing critical thinking skills. Join our monthly chess tournaments!

My Coding Place (MCP) has recently started chess tournaments to give students opportunities to learn problem-solving and critical thinking in the company of other kids! On the first Saturday of every month, we open early to host tournaments that include coaching and guidance from our chess instructor. We introduce participants to opening moves and strategies such as castling and forking. Thank you to all the chess players who have joined us over the past 3 months. We recently hosted our last chess tournament of the year with the top 3 winners being 4th grade boys!

We introduced chess into our curriculum in 2020 when we welcomed a coding instructor who was passionate about chess. Our first chess classes were virtual and are now all face-to-face, using chess sets and incorporating puzzles and videos from lichess, chesskids, and Chess fits well with our mission to encourage kids to think critically and analytically by offering them various tools that support problem-solving like coding and chess.

Chess thinking often involves a complex structure of problems and sub-problems, and the capacity for retaining and manipulating such complex structures of data correlate with having a high IQ. In fact, chess has been shown to raise student's overall IQ scores. In addition, other benefits of playing chess include:

  • Develops perspective.

  • Improves memory.

  • Deepens focus.

  • Elevates creativity.

  • Boosts planning skills.

  • Increases self-awareness.

Chess is a valuable skill with numerous benefits to learn at an early age. If your students are curious about chess or are interested improving their skills, please join us for our monthly tournaments or enroll in one of our chess classes!

Screentime Guide for Parents

Screens are everywhere in the modern world. But spending too much time looking at screens can be harmful to your children’s eyes, bodies and minds.

Setting limits regarding screen time can protect your child’s health and help them live a balanced, happy life. There are many tools to limit what types of content your child can access and for how long. Teaching your child how to interact appropriately with digital media will also help them stay safe while living a modern life.

Problems Screens Can Cause

Too much screen time can cause the following eye-related symptoms in children:

  • Fatigue

  • Blurred vision

  • Headaches

  • Dry eyes

  • Eye discomfort

It can also affect children’s physical and mental health in the following ways:

  • Reduced socialization

  • Poor self-esteem

  • Lack of physical activity

  • Weight management problems

  • Mood problems

  • Sleep problems

  • Increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other chronic health problems

  • Shortened attention span

  • Screen addiction

How to Develop Screen Time Rules

Limiting your child’s screen time will improve many aspects of their life. To put boundaries on screen time:

Limiting your child’s screen time will improve many aspects of their life.

  • Pre-screen any media your child will view. Some media are not suitable for children, even with limited exposure.

  • Look for interactive screen time options. Screen time that is spent doing something active, such as creating digital art, practicing basic coding, or playing an educational game, is less harmful than screen time watching videos or television programs.

  • Use parental controls to limit the types of content your child can access as well as how long they can use those electronic devices.

  • Supervise your child as much as possible while they are online.

  • Discuss with your child the media they use. Ask them questions about what they are seeing and offer an outside perspective to help them fully explore the subject matter.

Suggested Screen Time Limits by Age

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following amounts of screen time for children of different ages:

AgeRecommended Screen TimeUnder 18 monthsNone, except for video calls with an adult present18 to 24 monthsOnly educational content under adult supervision2 to 5 yearsOne hour of non-educational screen time on weekdays and up to three hours on weekendsOver 6 yearsLimit specific screen-based activities, such as video games, instead of overall screen time. Encourage an activity that does not involve screen time.

Enforcing Screen Time

There are many tools available to help parents enforce screen time limits and content restrictions for their children.


Apple’s iOS devices come with a built-in Screen Time application you can use to restrict access to age-inappropriate content, set time limits for specific apps, and schedule blackout times during which no apps can be accessed. You can also review how much time your child has been on their device over the past seven days, including which apps they used and for how long.

To use it:

  • Tap the Settings button on your home screen.

  • Tap the Screen Time menu option.

This feature can be secured with a Screen Time passcode so that your child cannot change the settings without your permission.

Although Android phones do not have built-in parental controls, Google Family Link is a free app that provides similar functionality. It is also available on Apple devices running iOS11 or higher.

This app allows parent accounts to remotely lock their children’s devices, set time limits for each app, and schedule a “bedtime” for child devices to ensure the device cannot be used past that time. It also allows you to view data on your child’s app activity, including daily, weekly, and monthly reports.

To install it:

  1. Open the Settings menu on your child’s device.

  2. Select “Google,” and then “Parental controls.”

  3. Press the “Get started” button.

  4. Select “Child or teen,” then press “Next.”

  5. Select your child’s Google account or create one for them, then press “Next.”

  6. Sign in with your own account, then follow the steps listed on-screen.

Game Consoles

Nintendo offers a free parental control app for the Switch that allows you to set play time limits and restrict when the console can be used. You can also use it to review which games your child has been playing and for how long.

To use it, you will need to pair your smartphone to the Nintendo account you want to manage.

  1. Open the app and sign into your Nintendo account. You will receive a six-digit registration code that you will need to enter on your Switch.

  2. Pick up the Switch and open the System Settings menu from the home screen.

  3. Select “Parental Controls” from the menu on the left.

  4. Select “I have the app installed.”

  5. Enter the registration code you received on your mobile device.

  6. Select “Register” to confirm.

You will then be able to set whatever time or content limits you see fit from the smartphone app.

Playstation’s parental controls also allow you to set restrictions. They also allow you to restrict the use of chat and messaging features, Playstation VR, and the internet browser. To use these features, you will need your own Playstation Network (PSN) account as well as a separate account for each child. Then:

  1. Sign into your PSN account using your web browser or Playstation console.

  2. Navigate to “Account Management,” then “Family Management.”

  3. Select “Add a Child.”

  4. Enter the child’s name and birthday.

  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to set time limits, content restrictions, and other parameters.

Xbox’s parental controls perform most of the same functions. To use them:

  1. Sign into your “Family Safety Account” on,com.

  2. Click on the family member whose screen time you want to restrict.

  3. Select Screen Time

  4. Scroll down to “Xbox consoles” and select “Turn limits on.”

  5. Use the menu to schedule times when use is permitted or to allot a specific number of hours available for use each day.


Many smart TVs have built-in parental control systems, but most only offer content restriction features without the ability to set limits for screen time.

Google products are the exception. Google TVs and Google Chromecast devices both offer children’s profiles with the ability to limit screen time.

You will be prompted to set screen-time limits and other parameters during the profile set-up process when creating a children’s profile. You can then change these parameters at any time using the account’s “Settings” menu.


The process for setting up computer screen-time limitations depends on which operating system (OS) your child’s computer is running on.

Microsoft’s parental controls for Windows 10 and above are run using the same Microsoft Family Safety system Xbox devices use. To set them up:

  1. Follow the instructions for Xbox controls listed above up to step 3.

  2. Select “Windows 10 devices” and select “Turn limits on.”

  3. Schedule times for computer use as needed.

Apple’s parental controls for MacOS Catalina and above also offer content blocking in addition to time limit features. To set them up:

  1. Have your child sign into their user account on their Macintosh computer.

  2. Click on the Apple menu, then select “System Preferences,” then “Screen Time.”

  3. Set up downtime hours, screen time limits, content limits, and more according to your needs.

  4. Click on the “Options” button in the lower-left corner.

  5. Select “Use Screen Time Passcode” and secure the Screen Time menu so that only you can access it.

Tips to Reduce Children’s Screen Time

There are some simple actions parents can take to reduce the amount of screen time their children get each day.

  • Practice good habits yourself. Children look to their parents to set an example. Let them see you reading books, going on walks, socializing with friends, enjoying hobbies, and generally spending time away from screens.

  • Turn the TV off during mealtimes. Instead, use that time to connect with your family.

  • Avoid exposing your children to screens for at least one hour before bedtime. This will reduce the likelihood of sleep issues caused by exposure to blue light.

  • Teach your child about the negative effects of screen time. Children who understand why they are being asked to follow certain rules are more likely to comply. Discuss screen time as a health issue and encourage them to make healthy choices with their free time.

Teaching and Encouraging Digital Literacy

Teaching your child digital literacy skills can help protect them against some of the consequences of high screen time. For example:

  • Show your children how to think critically about the digital content they consume. They should understand how to evaluate the trustworthiness of a source and how to compare, contrast, and combine information from multiple sources to get a range of perspectives on an issue. Once you have covered the fundamentals, help them practice this skill in real-world contexts with you by their side.

  • Show your children how to create digital media as well as consume it. Encouraging children to experiment with this technology reinforces the idea that media is created by people with many different motivations. It also gives them high-quality interactive ways to use their allotted screen time.

  • Explain the concept of a digital identity and how to manage it. Children may not have a full understanding of privacy or the fact that what they post and share online can be traced back to their real-world identity. Teach your child how to use the privacy settings on their social media accounts and any other relevant online locations.

  • When possible, teach digital and print-based skills at the same time. When your child is learning to read, show them what letters look like on a screen as well as on paper. Show them that they can use their devices to read e-books and show them how age-appropriate games will help them learn.

Teaching Good Behavior Online

It is important for children to learn how to be good online citizens as soon as they begin to spend significant amounts of time online. Teach your child to:

Children do not always consider the consequences of their actions while online. Teach your child how difficult it is to delete something that has been published online.

  • Follow the same rules online as they would in person. Your child should understand that your expectations for their behavior are the same in all settings.

  • Always keep private matters to yourself. Your child should never share their contact information or home address with anyone they do not know. Passwords should not be shared with anyone but you. Inappropriate images and hurtful comments should never be shared at all.

  • Stand up for others online and report misbehavior. Emphasize the importance of kindness and respect, even when other people do not exemplify these values. Empower your child to make positive changes in their online community.

  • Resist the temptation to be dishonest online. While it is often easier to cheat or steal online than it is in person, those actions are still wrong.

  • Always think twice before posting or sharing something. Children do not always consider the consequences of their actions while online. Teach your child how difficult it is to delete something that has been published online and that they should only post things they want everyone to see – including family and authority figures.

Places to Look for Help

  • This article by Nemours KidsHealth offers more information on screen time recommendations, including some suggestions to improve the quality of your children’s screen time and reduce the number of hours they spend in front of screens.

  • This screen time tracker created by the We Can! Initiative from the US Department of Health and Human Services helps you add up all of the different screen time sources in your child’s life to better understand their total exposure.

  • This tip sheet from Canadian non-profit MediaSmarts offers guidelines that parents can use to start discussions with their children about their media use and its implications for their physical and mental health.

  • This webpage from the American Academy of Ophthalmology provides more details on how extended screen time can hurt children’s eyes. It also recommends some techniques you can teach your children to protect their eyes when using screens.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the recommended guidelines for screen time?

Recommended guidelines for screen time vary according to age. Pediatricians recommend no screen time for children under 18 months but do not set firm limits for children over 6. Consult the chart above for more detailed information.

What is a normal amount of screen time?

Children between the ages of 8 and 18 average 7.5 hours of screen time each day, not including time spent doing homework. However, this is significantly more screen time than recommended by experts.


  1. About Screen Time. (January 2018). Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

  2. Impact of computer use on children’s vision. (October 2009). Hippokratia Quarterly Medical Journal.

  3. Screen Time Guidelines for Babies and Toddlers. (January 2021). Nemours KidsHealth.

  4. What should I teach my kid about safe online behavior? (2021). Common Sense Media.

  5. To grow up healthy, children need to sit less and play more. (April 2019). World Health Organization (WHO).

  6. How can teachers and parents promote students’ digital literacies skills? (May 2021). Canadian Education Association.

  7. Screen time for children. (2021). Fraser Health Authority.

  8. Screen time and sleep among school-aged children and adolescents: a systematic literature review. (August 2014). Sleep Medicine Reviews.

  9. Teaching Digital Literacy in the Classroom. (2021). University of San Diego.

  10. Adverse physiological and psychological effects of screen time on children and adolescents: Literature review and case study. (2018). Environmental Research.

  11. Screen time and children: How to guide your child. (June 2019). Mayo Clinic.

Last Updated March 2, 2022

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information. This article was originally published at

Parents, if you’re looking for an activity that will challenge your kids and prepare them for the future, you’ve come to the right place in Austin, TX! My Coding Place offers after-school programs and camps for kids to teach them the valuable skill of programming computers to prepare them for the future. My Coding Place empowers the next generation with problem-solving skills and teaches kids not only to create but to think critically about innovation. In our programs, we guide students through the fundamentals of computers, chess, game design, and coding, teaching creative problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. Our goal is to enable young people with new ideas about their world and new skills to change the future. Join us for one of the following camps this summer!

Camp Descriptions

Chess Champion

This camp will focus on the fundamentals of chess including strategies for the beginning, middle and endgame. Students develop their skills through puzzles, lessons and games against other students. This camp is designed for beginners and those new to chess that want to improve their skills.

This camp will be 1.5 hours a day where students will play chess in groups, play group games, and be coached on their moves.

Great Graphics

Students will have fun engaging their artistic side in our Digital Art camp! Create and edit images, shapes, and text, and learn how to make photo collages, use selection tools, filters, digital brushes and more! This is an introduction to photo editors and visual communication, solving visual problems with digital solutions. Add to your portfolio every day to show friends and family.

Throughout the course, students will establish proficiency with the photo editor interface and tools, and will gain an understanding of file formats, color management, image resolution, and pixel depth for differing output needs. They will learn about texturing, compositing, and various effects that can be applied when creating and manipulating images.

Grand Games (Scratch)

Scratch is a color-coded, block-based programming language that exposes students to basic coding constructs in a creative, engaging way. Beginner students will develop typing skills, reading comprehension, game/art creation, as well as critical computational thinking. The artistic and youth-friendly aspect of Scratch will allow students to build fun animations and games, keep scores, change backdrops, create colorful characters, and other artwork.

They will also learn coding and math concepts such as events, loops, variables, random numbers, and the coordinate system. Through application and practice, students will become proficient in the fundamentals of programming.

Rockin Roblox

Learn game design and coding with Roblox, a popular tool where creativity and imagination are limitless! Code with drag-and-drop blocks and make your own version of your favorite Roblox games. Learn LUA programming concepts and take Roblox to the next level by applying loops, conditionals, variables and arrays. Students will make professional quality games that they can play with friends and family!

Wonderful Web I

This camp introduces the cool web technologies of HTML and CSS that form web pages! Learn techniques to design and build a basic web page with animated graphics and learn about the underlying frameworks and scripting languages that can power websites. Examples of projects include a greeting card, a recipe, and a custom page relating to the student’s interest such as cars and sports. The Javascript programming language will be introduced but not explored in depth until Wonderful Web II.

Wonderful Web II

In the second edition of Wonderful Web, students will add some muscle to their previously created websites with Javascript. Students will have already learned HTML5/CSS in Wonderful Web I, providing a backbone upon which they will continue learning.

Javascript is the most popular language for web development. This allows websites to have more functionality, interactivity, and purpose. With Javascript, students will learn how to make a dynamic website or game that they can actually play with instead of making one they can only view or read. In addition to making something creative, students will be taught coding concepts such as variables, objects, arrays, if statements, loops, and functions.

Java Jam

For students who have had some coding experience, this is an introduction to object-oriented programming. Learn about topics like polymorphism, classes, abstraction, and inheritance. Students will put these into practice by building engaging applications. Did you know that Minecraft was created using only Java? Students will have the ability to create their own games such as tic-tac-toe, endless runner and many more exciting projects.

Minecraft Mania (Lua)

ComputerCraft is a modification for Minecraft that’s all about computer programming. It allows students to build in-game Computers and Turtle Robots, writing programs for Minecraft using the Lua programming language. By learning how to program computers in ComputerCraft, students gain extra control over their Minecraft worlds and can create new and exciting things.

This mod allows you to build fully-functioning computers inside your Minecraft world, then use those computers much like you use a real computer. Students can play games and program the robots to carry out actions, such as mining, farming, crafting and protecting them against monsters, while learning basic programming concepts such as loops, variables, and conditional statements.

This class requires the purchase of Minecraft Java edition on a PC or Mac. ComputerCraft should be downloaded; instructions will be sent the day before class starts.

Minecraft Magic (Java)

Minecraft is a lot of fun. However, it is more engaging, entertaining, and educational when kids learn how to build mods—small programs that let users modify game elements and add content. This introductory class teaches kids and parents how to create mods of different types, using the Minecraft Forge modding tool. No programming experience is needed.

​Students will not only build some amazing mods, but they will also learn how to work with Java, the same programming language that Minecraft uses. This class requires the purchase of Minecraft Java edition on a PC or Mac. Forge should be downloaded; instructions will be sent the day before class starts.

Math Masters

“How long will it take me to fly to Japan?” “How many possible chess moves are there?” “How does Mario jump on Goombas’ heads?” Welcome to Math in Action, where we seek to answer these questions and many more! What separates Math in Action from your typical math class is we are all about demonstration! Instead of worksheets and tests, we utilize projects and experiments to teach math concepts in a fun and engaging way. Topics covered will range from Pre-Algebra to the introduction of basic Trigonometry. By the end of the program, students will have a much deeper understanding of math and be able to apply it to real-world problems and computer programming. Please join us as we deepen our understanding of the world around us through math!

Marvelous Mobile

This course will teach app building for Android-based mobile phones and tablets using MIT App Inventor - a visual programming environment that will raise your kids from the status of technology consumer to technology creator. Apps are created by simple drag and drop features instead of the regular and more complex coding environment. Students can bring their own Android device or use the Android phones that will be provided.

Attendees will learn useful features such as how the app uses the camera, voice recognition, and language translation. User interface components like buttons, sliders, and notifications will also be created. There are over 22 million apps in the library of MIT App Inventor, created by 400,000 unique monthly users from 195 countries!

This camp has the potential for an endless amount of projects.

Amazing AI

Curious about AI and machine learning? This camp introduces artificial intelligence and explores definitions and concepts in this exciting and growing field. Students will train machine learning models to recognize text, numbers, images, or sounds. This builds on introductory coding concepts, by adding models to educational coding platforms Scratch and App Inventor, and helping students create projects and build games with the machine learning models they train.

Concepts covered:

  • Algorithms

  • Data processing

  • Classification

  • Machine learning

Racing Robots

This camp introduces students to building, controlling, and playing with Robots! In our course, we will be using Ozobot Evo and Makeblock mBot brand robots. The robots are controlled from an easy to learn block-based coding platform. Students will learn basic coding constructs such as event-handling and conditionals; and the process of manipulating and directing their robot with gears, motors, and electricity.

Python Party

Python is often thought to be the best first typed language for beginners to learn! Not only is this language easy to learn, it is commonly used in the professional technology world to achieve a wide variety of results such as website development, machine learning, game creation, and data science/analytics. Learn to use loops, counters, conditionals, and other basic coding constructs. Python is the real deal, favored by companies such as Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify. We will introduce algorithmic or computational thinking that will help students solve problems logically before coding.

Concepts covered:

  • Navigating a code editor

  • Turtle, a library of code to help generate graphic art

  • Basic coding concepts

Confident Keyboarding

Ages 7-18, let's learn some keyboarding skills! Keyboarding is a lifelong skill that requires practice to get faster and improve dexterity and accuracy. It's also fun to race and improve your personal time. Join us for 2.5 hours a day for a week as we introduce your student to the hows and whys of learning to type!

Students will be introduced to touch-typing skills through the use of classroom instruction and online tools, with a focus on finger placement, posture and accuracy. Students will play fun typing games to reinforce proper technique.

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