MPA Childnet blog image

The Childnet Film Competition: an opportunity for creativity and education

May 20, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has seen travel, business and socialising halted as Governments around the world ask people to remain in their homes. Whilst hugely challenging, the crisis has led to a burst of creativity and innovation, from news produced in people’s homes and panel shows made possible by video conferencing technology, to theatre productions beamed into our houses. As our daily lives change beyond recognition, we’ve even seen teachers and children turn to video calls and other technology in an effort to continue education.

The internet is of course a fantastic resource, with tremendous potential as an educational and entertainment medium for children around the world. But there are dangers too.

Childnet was established in 1995 to protect young people and children in an increasingly digital world. Its mission is to educate both young people and those responsible for creating laws and technology to ensure a safe an open environment for all. One of the ways they do this is through the Childnet Film Competition.

The competition invites young people aged 7-18 to create a short online safety film. This year, we celebrate the eleventh annual Childnet Film Competition – and the second consecutive year that the MPA has supported this project. During lockdown, Childnet has found a creative way to ensure that the film competition goes ahead as planned, but with an adapted format and three new categories to make it more suitable for home-working. This year’s theme is: ‘We want an internet where we’re free to…’

Stan McCoy, the MPA’s President and Managing Director of the region encompassing Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, , including David Austin (BBFC), Lisa Prime (BAFTA), Catherine McAllister (BBC), Mark Reid (BFI) and Amy Phillips (Disney) , this June to review the entries.

The importance of an open and safe internet

The MPA wholeheartedly supports Childnet’s mission to make the internet a great and safe place for children and young people. It is important to work with children from a young age so they learn how to balance the benefits of the online world with an awareness of the potential dangers.

Childnet works with children, teachers and parents to equip people with the knowledge and skills to be able to navigate the online environment safely and responsibly.

For the internet to function effectively and for the good of society, we cannot have a ‘wild west’ – an online culture that functions differently to our offline culture, following its own set of rules. We need a responsible and safe internet for children, and for all of us.

Through supporting the Childnet Film Competition, we hope that young people can have fun and learn about how film and television programmes are made whilst better understanding the importance of making the internet an open, safe and valuable resource.

It’s essential to celebrate and support content creators

One of Childnet’s workstreams includes teaching young people that we must respect the law online as well as in the offline world.

By accessing safe, legal content online, fans are protecting themselves and the livelihoods of the people who make their favourite blockbusters and binge-able series. It takes financing and investment, together with the work of thousands of people, to bring brilliant ideas to audiences.

The recent Get It Right from a Genuine Site campaign emphasised that every time you watch, listen, read or play, you make a choice, either to support the things you love and help them flourish and grow, or to contribute nothing. By supporting what you love, you invest in creating more of it and the development of new artists and ideas.

When people choose to acquire or access content from an illicit source instead of going to a legal platform, this has a direct, detrimental impact on an industry that is a vital contributor to our economy.

In fact, according to the most recent Government figures, in 2019 there were 5.3 million jobs in the digital, culture, media and sport sectors, accounting for 15.7% of all UK jobs. This includes jobs in the creative industries. We know that the creative sector has been particularly affected by lockdown measures, but the industry is resilient. We know that once it is safe to do so, it will bounce back stronger than ever. But of course, a large part of this will be ensuring that hard working creatives – from camera operators and technicians to make-up artists and stuntpeople – have been fairly remunerated for their work.

More and more children are growing up in a digital world, and we believe it’s important they learn to differentiate legal from illegal sites early on in order to safely navigate the online world. The Childnet Film Competition is about reminding young people of this, while encouraging an exciting dose of creativity and passion that is much needed in the current climate.

You can read more about the Childnet Film Competition 2020 here: