If you are watching me on YouTube, you will know that we have recently been to something called the Digital Kids Show at Event City in Manchester. We were offered tickets in exchange for an honest review so here it is.
I’ll be honest, I’d never actually heard of the Digital Kids Show before we were offered the tickets. I had been looking for something to do over the half term week with Zak and so I had a little Google, as you do, and found out a bit about it.
The strap line for the show sounded promising when you are the parent of a technology obsessed tween:
Minecraft mayhem, coding for cool kids, parent & children gaming tournaments, internet safety zone, TV/YouTube stars & VR madness! Miss IT, Miss Out!
Pretty compelling reading I’m sure you’ll agree!
The website was equally bright and inviting, the line up promising and Zak generally liked the look of the whole thing so we decided to give it a go.
Having never been to an event like this before and having never been to Event City in Manchester before I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I suppose I thought that it would be a large, well-run exhibition, full of excited gamers just like Zak.
If I’m thinking of attending an event or going on a day out I always want to watch someone’s experience first hand before I go. I didn’t have time to do that with this event unfortunately but I did vlog the whole day myself, which you can watch here (it’s only about ten minutes long don’t worry!)
Event City is a pretty big venue, right next to the Trafford Centre. There were parking attendants on hand, helping people to find a space as even at 10:30 when we arrived, it was getting pretty busy.
Our first impressions were of the long queues of people who were waiting to get inside. I will admit that I skipped the queue and bartered my way inside. Not cool I know but I had Sophie with me and it was freezing! Once we had navigated our way through this we stepped through a big balloon arch way into the event itself. I think the boys (Zak had one of his friends with him) found it pretty exciting – stepping into the unknown! We signed in and picked up a programme and off we went exploring.
Exhibitors and Activities
There were some really big name brands and exhibitors featured at the show but it felt like a bit of a free for all as to where to go or what to see. I think this combined with the noise, colour and stimulus in there made the whole thing feel a tad overwhelming to begin with. If you are thinking of going to the next Digital Kids Show then I would recommend doing what we did and walking around the whole venue to get your bearings. Doing this also will help the kids decide what they would like to see and do. For future events I would think it would be a good idea if they had people on hand to advise you as to what you can see and do. It was more a case of here’s your programme, off you go!
The large theatre area at the back of the venue provided a big range of acts and show pieces throughout the day and proved to be popular with a lot of families (maybe so they could sit down!) We watched the initial opening act, Boogie Storm, and then moved away. It’s worth noting that this area is FAR too loud especially for people with young children (under 2). To be fair it does say this on the website but even for us it was unnecessarily noisy (am I getting old?!)
There was a packed programme on if you did have the luxury of sticking around to watch it all though!
The exhibitors varied wildly and there was a lot to see and do. Huge big name brands such as Xbox, YouTube Kids, CBBC and Cbeebies were there to chat and interact with. Afterwards, from looking on the website it was apparent that everything was separated out into different zones:
- Internet Safety and Anti Bullying Zone
- Children’s Media Zone
- Digital, Stem and Coding Zone
- Minecraft, Gaming and Retro Tech Zone
- Move and Groove Zone
In reality, I don’t think that this was obvious at all and so we just wondered about trying things that the boys fancied.
Some of their favourite places were the total wipe out demolition zone and the it’s a knockout zone. They had some fun jumping and bouncing around on these for a while. Brilliant for kids who really need to burn off some energy before joining the Minecraft gaming queues!
YouTube Kids was a big hit with the boys! It was by far the most friendly and accessible of the exhibitions and they had fun chatting to one of the presenters, as well as trying out the virtual reality headsets.
The gaming zones and in particular Minecraft, were the big draw for a lot of kids at the Digital Kids Show. For Zak and his friend however, Minecraft just isn’t that cool anymore (apparently!) so they stuck to the Guitar Hero, which they LOVED! I couldn’t pull them away from it!
The boys did queue up for another of the gaming stations but after 25 minutes of being ignored and pushed in front of, we gave up and admitted defeat I’m afraid! It was quite badly organised in that respect.
There was an opportunity to meet and greet with some “Minecraft YouTube mega stars” towards the end of the day. Zak was adamant that as it wasn’t Dan TDM, he wasn’t going to meet them. Obviously he’s forgetting that just six months ago he was living and breathing Minecraft himself. Short memories these kids!
I’ll name the kids for you – perhaps you will be more familiar than I was? I am so not cool I know…
- Ethan Gamer
- Netty Plays
- Mini Matt
- Amy Lee
And a sneaky pic for you…
The exhibitions that were highlights such as the Guitar Hero section and YouTube kids, were made so because the staff who worked on them were approachable and friendly. These people made the kids feel immediately at ease, welcome and free to get stuck in with the interaction. There was a lot of very hard working staff on these exhibitions – it must be difficult to plaster a smile on your face for that length of time!
The food. The website stated that other than baby food, there was no food or drink to be brought into the venue. Once inside the venue there was only two places to eat and if you didn’t want chicken strips, cheeseburgers or chips with fizzy pop and a hefty price tag, then there was nothing else. Seriously bad for an event that is run for children. We had to go across to the Trafford Centre to get something a little bit healthier. I believe that the organisers may have been let down at the last minute by the catering but either way it was really not good.
Overall we did have a pretty good day out. We won’t be returning next year though because although the event is advertised as being suitable for up to 16+ in reality we felt it was aimed strongly at around 5 – 10 years old. Zak is 11 and didn’t think he would return as there wasn’t much for his age to do. Personally, I think that there may have been more to do for his age group that we missed but the queues made it really difficult to get the kids interested in trying things out. If you have a baby or toddler, then I wouldn’t bother taking them as it was quite a difficult environment for little ones.
However, if you have a Minecraft obsessed child aged 5-10 then I’m pretty sure this would be a brilliant day out for them. You will love seeing them interacting with the various exhibitions and having fun but be sure to bring comfy shoes and ear plugs!
Did you go to the Digital Kids Show? What did you think? Let me know in the comments box below and I’ll see you soon.