Are Reality Shows Injuring Childhood?

reality shows and children The boy was eagerly waiting for the judges to comment on his performance. While he seemed completely satisfied with his song, the judges thought it to be dull singing. With the system of public voting on, they hoped to see him perform the next time.

The boy unable to control his tears started crying, soon after which he faints. He is hospitalised the very moment…

Is innocence taken over by another chapter of glamour in children’s syllabus?

India in today’s scenario releases a variety of ‘reality shows’ which offer participants a scope to bring forward their talents, be it singing, dancing, comedy, and what not! But surely our society, in this hunger of glam-sham and popularity, forget to realise how expectations like these from such a tender age can prove to be detrimental.

We at the end of the day forget to realise how such concepts of so-called ‘innovative’ reality shows in the name of nurturing and developing a child’s potential, end up putting a full stop to ‘childhood’, when a young kid is expected to play, relax, study and most importantly appreciate the best and most playful time of his/her life!

Rather today’s fashion gives a flowery name behind CHILD LABOUR AND EXPLOITATION, for as long as it serves the purposes of winning over TRP charts and overall popularity of the show.

How can we forget the words of our legal system, which brings forward the following laws and regulations?

WHERE DOES THE FLAW LIE?

Unfortunately the flaw lies within the periphery of the family of such adolescents and their unreasonable expectations from their child. Statements like “I want to win this competition because my dad wants it” or “My mother has such high hopes attached to every performance I give that I fear to disappoint her” reveals the actual story. Parents always appreciate such achievements which they themselves failed to experience in their own life. However, they never realise that in the name of extending the ‘required support’ to their kid, they literally add a ‘burden’ to the child’s mental and physical health. Furthermore, it is ‘they’ who behave childlike when they agree to put at stake the child’s academics as that arena becomes secondary to winning fame and money!

No doubt such a typical behaviour from parents gives a scope to kids to emulate the lifestyle of celebrities and become one of them! A sense of becoming a ‘superstar’ at such a vulnerable age brings with it a considerable degree of what we call in informal terms- ‘arrogance’. With that, we endanger a child’s ability to think maturely and sensibly! Isn’t that too big a sacrifice?

REAL INSTANCES THAT WE CAN NEVER IGNORE:

1. INFANT STAYING WITH A DIFFERENT ‘INEXPERIENCED’ PARENT?
Truly that was the concept behind one of the very popular reality show-‘Pati Patni Aur Who’ especially meant for couples to learn the art of caring a baby!

On occasion, especially in the context of infant and/or very small children, even a parental consent is not a justification for a child`s participation in a reality show. The serious flaws were laid down in the contract that included:

2. GETTING INTO ACTING IN TV SERIALS OR FILMS?

Soon after Sanchita Bhattacharya was declared the winner of the first season of Zee SaReGaMaPa Lil Champs, fans of runner up contestant Sameer did not appear disappointed. Many viewers felt that Sameer already had a bright career in acting, so what if he couldn’t bag the number one title! [1]

Even the winner comments-“Not only dancing but the person performing on stage should absolutely be a whole package – singing, dancing and even acting. We were taught this by Shiamak Davar.” [2]

Such are the expectations that build up both within the crowd as well as within the child, as he enters this world of entertainment, rather call it the world of unpleasant “reality”!

3. OBJECTIONABLE DRESSES IN THE NAME OF MAKE-OVER?

“Justice Subhashan Reddy, chairman of the Human Rights Commission, threatening to stall Zee Telugu’s ‘Aata’, a children’s dance reality show, hit the news for a quite a long time. The participants’ provocative dances and dresses in the TV show were quite demeaning in nature, he said that a committee would be set up, if necessary, to probe into the matter further.

What is even more shameful is that this instance is just one of a kind!

4. WORKING FOR LONG HOURS?

Children participating in talent shows normally work for more than 12 hours besides there are constant rehearsals for various promotional programmes for which private channels get a lot of mileage. [3]

5. CRAZE FOR REPEATED PUBLIC APPEARANCES?

Sadly, as teens get addicted to experiencing the pleasure of being over the ‘national television’, there seems no turning back to a life they were previously accustomed to! Recall Anwesha Dutta Gupta who gained fame as a finalist in Star Plus-Voice Of India-Chhote Ustaad. Not surprising is her track of early public appearances which include performance in Sabujer Deshe in 2000 (ETV Bangla), Tarana music competition telecasted in January 2003 (ETV Bangla) and Antakshari 2007 (Star Plus).[4]

LET US ATTACK CHILD LABOUR…

As according to Mr Sumit Nagpal: TV journalist, New Delhi-Parents need to be informed about the positives and negatives of participation in TV reality shows.” Further the payment to children should be through fixed deposit or scholarships, so that the guardians do not discover a money making machine in their kids!

Since reality shows have been accepted by our culture wholeheartedly, it is difficult to scrap off this concept at one go. Hence the first priority in our mind should be securing a child’s future, so that it is ensured that parents and guardians cannot consider their child’s income as granted!

Secondly, it is important for organisers to clearly bracket the acceptable age limit that becomes the eligibility criteria to participate.

Thirdly, regulations are necessary and broadcasters should be sensitive towards child rights, especially any form of child abuse-be it even mental harassment created by harsh comments to a young participant, or making these teens work for long hours, all of which has to be corrected at every cost!

CONCLUSION

At the end of the day- children are children. You cannot expect them to be self- parenting their own immature decisions. Reality shows do provide a stage to search hidden talents from big cities to small towns. However, it is indeed too early for the youngsters to become a part of it- what we say-“too much too soon”. We are thus expected to safeguard them and their future; and exposing them to this form of popularity would mean exposing them to severe punishment and harassment, which they are in reality, not entitled to! STOP CHILD LABOUR, STOP INJURING INNOCENCE.

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SOURCES:

  1. http://pratyush.instablogs.com/entry/sanchita-wins-sa-re-ga-ma-pa-lil-champ/
  2. http://www.india-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=488753
  3. Statement reported by NCPCR
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwesha_Datta_Gupta

Others:

Picture Courtesy- timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Article by-

Arpita Mitra (Student, St. Paul’s School)

[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]

By Competition2011 on May 26, 2011 · Posted in Perspective

2 Comments | Post Comment

sri says:

i think it wont be good to promote the children to the programs although developing talents is necessary and i a relaxation can be given for good cultural programs inorder to provide a unity in the country

Posted on February 14th, 2012

manju says:

yes

Posted on December 3rd, 2012