Gone are those days when parents used to be proud of watching their ‘apple of the eyes’ take part in ‘Inter-School Quiz’ competition, and subsequently, feel elevated at every right answer the child rapidly fires back. The spontaneous rise in the number of children’s participation in reality programs on television channels has sent fear among many parents and guardians alike. Are the TV channels overlooking the welfare of children in reality shows for the sake of TRPs?
In the recent times, media industry has increasingly been dragged to the limelight for all the wrong reasons and for the defiance of public interests. So, the most important question that has come in the minds of every responsible TV viewer is—“Do we really need ‘entertainment’ that forsakes the future and values of our children?”
Childhood is the formative stage where a child learns constructive lessons, knowledge, values and social responsibilities. Regardless of whether these reality shows tally high television rating points (TRPs) and increase viewership for TV channels, reality programs featuring children have shown adverse effects on the overall development of children. Reality shows unlike short-term roles in films usually stretches for a long period of time and as a result, the children are often forced to work under immense stress and pressures. One of the most important drawbacks of children in reality shows is that they are weaned of quality education, curriculums and formative activities. Most child psychologists disagree with the whole concept of ‘children in reality shows’ in stark variations to the opinions of many experts in the entertainment industry. According to health experts, minors in reality shows have to endure high amount of pressure that are usually uncalled for in their respective acts. Often, the frills attached to these programs demand the child participant to amuse audience with innate talent and creativity.
In the bid to achieve quick accolades and fames, parents forces children to take part in these shows. Rude comments from judges, adrenaline pumping activities, emotional trauma and stressful limelight presence are bound to kill the spirit of the child. So, it is quite common to see ‘baby tears’ rolling down on the cheeks of ‘otherwise-once-enthusiastic’ boys and girls while an equally heart-broken audiences watched in awe. In India, the popularity of reality shows have shot all-time-high and this is true, considering the fact that almost each and every TV channel have started telecasting children reality shows on singing, dancing and talent competitions. In recognition of the dark side of the increasing participation of children in television reality shows, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has agreed to fix the eligibility age limit for children’s participation in reality TV shows. Under the current circumstances, no child under the age of seven years is allowed to take part in reality TV shows.
The bottom line is that the final call on the future of the child rest solely on the hands of the parents. Having said that taking an uninformed decision on behalf of a child who is no position to take his/her own decisions is equivalent to committing a grave mistake.