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Insights from the My First Smartphone Festival 2024 at Beeld & Geluid

Photography by Max Kneefel

In today’s digital age, museums are exploring new frontiers as they seek to address the evolving role of technology in society. Recently, The Netherlands Institute of Sound & Vision (Beeld & Geluid) hosted the inaugural My First Smartphone Festival 2024, an innovative event aimed at exploring the intersection of childhood, technology, and media literacy, specifically tailored to smartphone usage.

Beeld & Geluid is the institute for media culture; an inspiring, creative and accessible meeting place for private individuals and professionals. We interpret current developments concerning people, media and society from a media-historical perspective.

In this article, we’ll dive into the key insights and lessons learned from the festival, offering valuable takeaways for museum professionals worldwide.

Photography by Max Kneefel

Children owning smartphones at younger ages: A growing trend

The moment children receive their first smartphone marks a significant milestone for them and their parents or caregivers. On average, children in the Netherlands receive their first phone around the age of 9, although they often use their parents’ phones way before that.

Understanding parents’ concerns and children’s interests

Through collaborations with organizations like Netwerk Media Wijsheid (Media Literacy Network), Bureau Jeugd en Media (Youth and Media) and University of Amsterdam we have gained valuable insights into media usage patterns and the concerns of both parents and children.

While smartphones offer a plethora of opportunities for learning, connection, and entertainment, they also raise concerns among parents regarding screen time, online privacy, responsible only behavior, online safety and more. On the other hand, children are drawn to the engaging and interactive nature of smartphones like social media platforms, staying in touch with friends and family and playing games. Recognizing the importance of fostering responsible digital citizenship, Beeld & Geluid organized a festival featuring a diverse program with a compelling line-up.

Photography by Max Kneefel


Engagement strategies

The festival adopted an innovative approach to engage visitors designed to promote media literacy and facilitate informed discussions about smartphone usage, covering topics such as screen time, privacy, online safety, and recognizing reliable information. But also treating the smartphone as a creative toolbox.

Through themed zones like Create, Smart, Discover, Connect, and Play, participants explored various aspects of smartphone usage, from creative content creation to responsible usage discussions. This has proved to be a valuable resource for parents and children alike. Maximizing our impact, the festival ran from Thursday through Sunday: the first two days were dedicated to school classes, while the weekend was open to the public.

Photography by Max Kneefel

We partnered up with field experts and popular (online) media personalities, youtubers and other well known social media personalities which the kids recognize and adore, and fully embrace the message of the festival. As an example we featured experts and experienced professionals such as a screentime coach and TikTok experts who provided valuable insights into its mechanics and how to use it wisely and safely. Additionally, attendees learned from experts like the presenters from the popular news program, NOS Jeugdjournaal how to recognize (un)reliable messages. Popular Youtubers shared their story about how to create the most hilarious sketches and social video’s. Music and dance academies have shown the audience how you can unlock your creativity with singing and dancing with the smartphone. These are just a few examples of the full program we offered parents and kids, embracing its full potential.

Throughout the day, parents and kids could assemble their own full-day program including workshops, masterclasses, shows and interactive activities.

By fostering open communication, promoting responsible online behavior, and highlighting the creative potential of smartphones, we can empower both generations to thrive in the digital age.

Photography by Max Kneefel

Inclusive and accessible programming

The festival was committed to inclusivity and accessibility, reaching out to organizations that serve marginalized communities and providing complimentary tickets to those with limited resources. By prioritizing accessibility in event design, we ensured that all attendees felt welcome and appreciated. Additionally, as a spin-off, we provided libraries with select highlights from the program, aiming to extend the festival’s impact nationwide.

Lessons learned and future directions

Feedback from the festival was overwhelmingly positive, with attendees reporting a fun day, increased confidence in discussing smartphone usage within families and a heightened awareness of online content reliability. Moving forward, we plan to build on this success, returning every year, emphasizing the importance of embracing the fun aspects of digital literacy.

Photography by Max Kneefel

Conclusion

The My First Smartphone Festival 2024 showcased the evolving role of museums in addressing digital challenges. By promoting media literacy and responsible smartphone usage while embracing inclusivity, museums can shape digitally literate citizens.

Events like this inspire museum professionals to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of audiences in a digital age. And moreover, with initiatives like this we foster a new media literate generation that is much needed in our quickly changing digital world.

Media recognition & Numbers

The festival garnered significant media attention, featuring in popular newspapers, talk shows, and news segments, extending its reach way beyond traditional marketing efforts.

Campaign reach: >3 Million

News media coverage: >75 media coverages worth EUR. 450.000,-

Visitors: 2400 (600 students) from thursday till Sunday (Sunday Sold-Out)
Collaborating program partners: Approx. 35

Customer satisfaction: 7,8/10

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