Exclusive Interview with Veteran Director of Children’s Digital Media, Qi Lin

The rapid development of digital technology has become one of the major driving forces influencing the growth and welfare of children. Outstanding digital media products not only bring children a joyful childhood but also play a crucial role in their cognitive development.

Today, we are honored to have the award-winning veteran director Qi Lin in the field of children’s digital media. She is currently running the Aesthetic Education channel on the national-level 5G new media platform China Media Group Mobile in China. At the same time, she is a doctoral candidate in Journalism and Communication at Nanjing University, a professional member of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), a member of the International Communication Association (ICA), and a member of the Aesthetic Literacy Committee of the China Children’s Cultural and Art Promotion Association. With over a decade of practical experience and theoretical research in the field of children’s media, she is one of the few in China who can closely combine digital technology with children’s media as a practicing scholar and research director.

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Q:What drew you to the field of Children’s digital media, and how did you get started in it?

I find it fascinating and attractive when digital media combines with the field of children. You can unrestrictedly display the world children fantasize about in their minds through digital technology, achieving a leap from simulation to reality, and provide them with knowledge cultivation that is more open and diverse than disciplinary education.

Starting ten years ago, I focused on the pan-knowledge field for children and produced many popular science documentaries for children and people of all ages using advanced digital imaging technologies such as 3D, 4K, and HDR. One that deeply impressed me was “The Feast of the Forest,” in which a little girl from the Oroqen ethnic minority expresses her love for her ethnicity and her longing for the outside world when facing the camera, which deeply touched me. I realized that I needed to master more advanced technologies and theories to strive to promote educational fairness for all children and showcase their diverse aspects through digital technology. Later, many popular science works that I directed, such as “The Feast of the Forest,” “The Power of Life,” “Living Heritage Grand Canal,” and “The Unknown China,” won many popular science and social education program awards such as the first prize of the Jiangsu Province Golden Phoenix Award, the Jiangsu Province TV Social Education Program Award, and the Jiangsu Province Excellent Popular Science Works Recommendation Activity first prize, as well as the China 3D Film and Television Work Award from the China Film and Television Technology Society, which further affirmed my idea of combining digital technology with children’s content.

Q: Can you tell us what the biggest difference is between children’s digital media products and traditional children’s media content?

If traditional children’s media content is more about one-way content output, then children’s digital media products more often strengthen human-machine interaction and immersion in technical forms. This makes children’s digital media products appear more lively in terms of entertainment and acceptance compared to traditional children’s media content. More importantly, digital technology can greatly promote fairness in children’s education.

China Media Group Mobile is China’s national-level 5G new media platform. The Aesthetic Education channel was redesigned and launched during the Children’s Day in 2022. I led the team to operate this channel, creating key quality IPs from four tracks: art, sports, science and technology, and parent-child. This year on Children’s Day, we attempted to create a “Children’s Fun Art Museum” digital interactive art museum using advanced digital technologies such as AR and VR. By building a 3D scene on the cloud platform and creating a real and fun event atmosphere, users can freely browse the venue by controlling the virtual character, highly simulating the situation of offline activities. This breaks the time and space constraints and provides the possibility of online viewing for many children who are unable to visit the art museum in person.

Q: As a director of children’s digital media, what do you find most rewarding?

It’s undoubtedly the profound impact that digital media products bring to children. Digital media can overcome various restrictions such as geographical and economic conditions to bring interesting and valuable content to children, sometimes even making up for school education and supplementing cognitive deficiencies in real life. This is helpful for them throughout their lives.

During the pandemic in 2020, schools in China were generally closed, and 200 million primary and secondary school students were studying at home. We quickly launched the children’s new media product “24 Hours of Epidemic—CMG MOBILE Live Classes”, which included nearly 20,000 live sessions, a total of over 860 million viewers, over 100 million on-demand video views in a single day, and over 42 million interactions. This solved the urgent need for hundreds of millions of primary and secondary school students to study at home, and also won me the second prize of Creative Interaction in the 31st China News Award. This project confirms the significant meaning of digital media for children’s development. In fact, I think that to some extent, the importance of digital media as a fundamental infrastructure of childhood is equivalent to schools, children’s hospitals, and other child protection systems.

Q: What sets you apart from other digital media directors in your field?

Digital media for children plays a strong guiding role in children’s cognitive development. Therefore, in the development process, the director needs to have strong specialized knowledge of children’s psychological development and media theory.

In order to deepen my understanding of the frontier of children’s media development, I started pursuing a doctorate degree in Journalism and Communication at Nanjing University in 2018, focusing on the research direction of children’s media and conducting frontier theoretical exploration for media forms such as digital animation. I have interviewed hundreds of children and learned deeply from talking to them about the sense of security and power that digital media can bring to children. I have published several papers on adolescent online communication, digital new media, and animation media in CSSCI and other academic journals, which have been cited more than 30 times. I also tried to develop a digital animation system to help children with attention deficit and art therapy based on big data and AI technology, combining theoretical results with product development.

Q: Do you have any advice for digital media directors in your field?

Believe in children, pay attention to them and their needs. Nothing is more important than children, and digital media is the best solution to provide them with a wonderful childhood. So, if anyone respect children and know enough about the potential of digital technology,I am sure he/she can create interesting and valuable digital media products for children.

At the end of this conversation, we cannot help but be impressed by Director Qi Lin’s passion and talent. She not only deeply understands the potential of the fusion of digital technology and children’s media but also creates stunning children’s digital media products with innovative thinking and a deep understanding of children. As she said, children are our future, and children’s digital media is an important window for them to touch and understand the world.

We look forward to Qi Lin and her team bringing us more innovative, child-centric and needs-oriented excellent works in the future. Let us anticipate the future of this field, expecting digital technology to bring a more abundant and diverse range of knowledge for all children, and looking forward to a brighter future for children.

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