Cinekid: the ‘biggest digital playground’

Published October 23, 2014 – by Melissa van Well
Kids enjoying installation MurMur at the Cinekid MediaLab
Kids enjoying installation MurMur at the Cinekid MediaLab

Last week the 28th edition of the annual Cinekid Festival took place in Amsterdam and several other locations in the Netherlands. The Bernard van Leer Foundation sponsored this movie, television and new media festival for kids, also known as the ‘biggest digital playground’. And this year we made sure parents of the youngest kids knew exactly how to get the most out of their visit…

For more than 25 years, Cinekid has been striving to promote the production of high-quality media for children, to ensure that special media productions are accessible to them and to involve the young target audience actively and creatively in media. One of the main reasons why the Bernard van Leer Foundation is funding Cinekid is to create demand for better quality early learning through new media, which we believe is an underemphasized field of attention. Media knowledge for young kids nurtures “21st century workforce skills” such as exploration, trial and failure, logical thinking, problem solving and creativity, which are increasingly important as the nature of the world, and the workplace, changes at an accelerating rate.

The ‘Bernard van Leer-route’

Once again this year, the famous Cinekid Medialab offered children interactive installations and workshops. New this time was the special ‘Bernard van Leer-route’ consisting of six installations that were especially suitable for the youngest visitors, aged 3-7 years. Parents of young children were handed a flyer pointing out where to find them. It was very nice to see the kids reacting to the different installations with immediate smiles on their faces and the inner scientists coming out that wanted to discover and try everything for themselves.

Examples of the installations are MurMur (‘make noise with your voice and see this appearing on a screen as light waves’) and the Mobile Planetarium (‘a show to discover what the milky way looks like’). Also part of the ‘Bernard van Leer-route’ was the MiniAppLab. That Cinekid values the opinion and active participation of children was visible even with this youngest group. In the MiniAppLab there was a researcher present the whole day, interviewing and monitoring the young children on their experiences and opinions using the different apps.

The network event at Cinekid 2014

Network event

On Tuesday October 14th the Bernard van Leer Foundation and Cinekid organized a network event together. We invited our existing partners and other potentially influential voices for children in the Netherlands to join this event with their own children, and experience the Medialab for themselves. The guests then moved on to another venue in Amsterdam, where they were warmly welcomed by our Communications Director Leontien Peeters and her cute baby boy Max. Jason Krogh, CEO of Sago Sago, made a presentation about how they actively involve young children in developing their apps; in the words of Seymour Papert, ‘It’s not the screen that matters. What matters is what happens when a 4-year-old interacts with the screen’.

We ended the event in style, when an 11-year-old DJ entertained the guests with nice lounge music, while they enjoyed their drinks and further conversations.