Symposium: 20 years of Kijkwijzer

On Monday 28 March, NICAM celebrated Kijkwijzer’s 20th anniversary during a symposium in Beeld & Geluid, The Hague. We were accompanied by our most important stakeholders, such as media companies, coders, parents, experts in the field of child psychology and media, government officials and supervisors. The anniversary was cause for celebration as well as reflection. Our stakeholders play a crucial role in this. One of the most important take-aways from the symposium was that, internationally speaking, Kijkwijzer is still a unique system that is more relevant than ever and that is more than capable of adapting to the new challenges that today’s ever-changing media landscape poses.

Plans for the future

Apart from revisiting the accomplishments of the past few years, our participants also gave shape to NICAM’s future plans. What effects does 2020’s Media Act have on NICAM, and what do NICAM’s new systems, such as Kijkwijzer Online, look like? What role can Kijkwijzer continue to play in the growing and increasingly borderless media landscape? How can Kijkwijzer stay effective and relevant? What are the limits of NICAM’s competence? All of these themes were discussed during presentations and conversations with, among others, Peter Eijsvoogel (Dutch Media Authority), Esther Rozendaal (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Wim Bekkers and Tiffany van Stormbroek (former and current director of NICAM), Violet Luif and Anne Sadza (Radboud University/Kijkwijzer).

Farewell to the board

During the symposium we bade farewell to our old governance structure and, as such, to NICAM’s chairman, Boris van der Ham. We also shared some news about the new structure. Toine Maes, former director and chairman of the board of Kennisnet, was introduced as the chairman of NICAM’s new Supervisory Board.

Kijkwijzer Awards

We believe that watching audiovisual content is the most amazing thing there is. We don’t normally judge content but due to Kijkwijzer’s 20th anniversary, we wanted to celebrate content. We asked coders to nominate scenes in each of the Kijkwijzer categories – fear, sex, drugs, violence, coarse language and discrimination – that impressed them the most. A panel of experts chose the winners, who received their Kijkwijzer Awards during the symposium. The Kijkwijzer Awards went to:

Violence: Inglourious Basterds – 2009 - Universal Pictures

Coarse language: Bro’s before Hoes - 2013 - Dutch FilmWorks

Sex: Call Me by Your Name - 2017 Sony Pictures

Fear: Saw - 2004 Lionsgate

Discrimination: Django Unchained - 2012 - Sony Pictures

Smoking, alcohol and drugs: Midsommar - 2017 - Dutch FilmWorks

Recent news

Teenagers want warnings before shocking videos on TikTok and Instagram

More than 80% of teenagers between the ages of 10 and 16 and their parents would like warnings before shocking images on social media such as TikTok and Instagram. It concerns images with violence, sex, animal suffering or ‘scary’ things. This has emerged from research by NICAM, the organization behind Kijkwijzer. Young people are afraid that the algorithm will serve them more and more videos that will make them feel afraid, embarrassed or unsafe. They not only want a warning that videos contain shocking images, but also what kind of images, so that they can decide for themselves whether they would like to watch or not.

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Kijkwijzer on YouTube

Due to the changed Media Act, NICAM will be introducing a modified Kijkwijzer: Kijkwijzer Online.
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All ages

All ages (AL) means that a film, series or television show contains no harmful imagery.

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6 years

The age category 6 years was developed to protect young children from scary and violent imagery. Young children are especially sensitive to this kind of material.

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9 years

Once children are around the age of 9, they are better able to understand whether films or series are real. That's why some productions are rated 9 years and older.

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12 years

When children are between 10 and 12 years old, they start to look differently at the world around them. Still, children around this age are more easily affected by content than teenagers.

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14 years

At this age, children start to use film and television to learn 'social' lessons, like: how to be yourself? And how to interact with others? Watching dangerous behaviour on screen can therefore cause issues at this age. 

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16 years

Although 16-year olds are better able to understand the difference between good and bad, this doesn't mean they can just watch any film or series without trouble.

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18 years

The age rating 18 years and older indicates that a film or television show is for adults only. 

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When children see violence, it can make them aggressive, scared or desensitized to violence. The chance at these kind of effects is influenced by a few things, like: how realistic is the violence? Is there blood or gore? Is violence rewarded? 

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Scary images can frighten children, make them restless or even cause long-term effects like nightmares. The effects vary depending on the viewer and the viewer's age. 

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Children and teens that are in the middle of their (sexual) development, are not always ready to see sexual scenes. They may also be unable to interpret them correctly. Kijkwijzer takes this into consideration. How explicit a sex scene is determines the final age rating.

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Coarse language

Coarse language consists of cussing and cursing, suggestive terms or sexual expletives. Children may imitate the use of offensive language and even incorporate it in their vocabulary.

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Discrimination is any expression that suggests (a group of) people are 'inferior' in some way, for example on the basis of skin colour, religion, sexuality, sex or gender, nationality or ethnicity. If a production contains discrimination and the discriminatory action is not immediately condemned, the icon for discrimination is depicted.

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Smoking, alcohol and drugs

If hard drugs are used in a production - or (a lot of) alcohol, soft drugs or tobacco - the Kijkwijzer icon for smoking, alcohol and drugs is depicted. Teenagers can start to see the use as something that's normal, or even as something worth trying. 

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Dangerous challenges and stunts

Dangerous challenges and stunts regularly occur in content on video sharing platforms.

Dangerous challenges and stunts


The game contains depictions of violence. In games rated PEGI 7 this can only be non-realistic or non-detailed violence. Games rated PEGI 12 can include violence in a fantasy environment or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters, whereas games rated PEGI 16 or 18 have increasingly more realistic-looking violence.​


This descriptor may appear as 'Fear' on games with a PEGI 7 if it contains pictures or sounds that may be frightening or scary to young children, or as 'Horror' on higher-rated games that contain moderate (PEGI 12) or intense and sustained (PEGI 16) horror sequences or disturbing images (not necessarily including violent content).


This content descriptor can accompany a PEGI 12 rating if the game includes sexual posturing or innuendo, a PEGI 16 rating if there is erotic nudity or sexual intercourse without visible genitals or a PEGI 18 rating if there is explicit sexual activity in the game. Depictions of nudity in a non-sexual context do not require a specific age rating, and this descriptor would not be necessary.


The game refers to or depicts the use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Games with this content descriptor are always PEGI 16 or PEGI 18.


The game contains depictions of ethnic, religious, nationalistic or other stereotypes likely to encourage hatred. This content is always restricted to a PEGI 18 rating (and likely to infringe national criminal laws).

Bad language

The game contains bad language. This descriptor can be found on games with a PEGI 12 (mild swearing), PEGI 16 (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy) or PEGI 18 rating (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy).




Video games that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters would fall in this age category. Sexual innuendo or sexual posturing can be present, while any bad language in this category must be mild.


This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. The use of bad language in games with a PEGI 16 rating can be more extreme, while the use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs can also be present.


The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence, apparently motiveless killing, or violence towards defenceless characters. The glamorisation of the use of illegal drugs and of the simulation of gambling, and explicit sexual activity should also fall into this age category. 


The game contains elements that encourage or teach gambling. These simulations of gambling refer to games of chance that are normally carried out in casinos or gambling halls. 

In-game purchases

The game offers players the option to purchase digital goods or services with real-world currency. Such purchases include additional content (bonus levels, outfits, surprise items, music), but also upgrades (e.g. to disable ads), subscriptions to updates, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency.

If this icon is accompanied by the notice Paid Random Items, the in-game purchases may consist of offers where the player doesn't know precisely what they are buying prior to purchase (i.e. loot boxes or card packs). 

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