Kids reality shows: The realities behind

By Ankita Agarwal on August 30, 2012

The Indian television industry has come a long way from the age of family dramas like Hum Log and mythological epics like Ramayana, to serving its audiences with never-ending emotional dramas of Ekta Kapoor. Today the Indian television has entered a new phase which is called the ‘reality television.’ Reality television is a recent buzzword in Indian scenario but has captured the screens of large proportion of Indian households. Reality television is based on the concept of entertaining the viewers with unscripted content. There are many kinds of reality shows being telecasted on Indian television screens; kids’ talent hunt shows among the most popular ones nowadays. One of the reasons behind growing popularity of such shows is the changing social patterns of Indian society. The kids now play an influential role in family decisions whether it is about products and services to be purchased or the television channel to be watched. This gives enough reason to the channels as well as producers to promote such programs and earn highest TRPs.

Reality on stage

There is no doubt that these shows offer a global platform to talented kids but this success comes with a price. The participants are exposed to situations of stress, anxiety, unhealthy competitiveness, pressure and maturity. Today, the commercialization of kids reality shows has overshadowed their basic objective of promoting the talent. Though National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has laid down clear guidelines regarding working hours, payments, medical requirements, age limits of the participants and content of the shows; but the reality differs!

Is it the glamour?

NCPCR provides for a complete medical checkup of kids before participation but parents sometimes ignore this and get blinded by the prize money and fame such shows offer. Moreover, most parents don’t think beyond physical fitness and neglect mental and emotional wellness of the child. It is important to know that the way a child would react to success or failure depends largely on his/her Emotional Quotient (EQ). These shows put children into lots of situations where emotional stability is highly desirable to save the children against incidences of depression. The kids should thus be provided emotional training before participating in such shows. Perhaps, the parents also need to be provided with such training because in many cases it is seen that the parents themselves fail to cope with the child’s failure. The parents should be told about their kid’s personality and how they need to emotionally prepare their child for both success and failure.

Reality behind their jokes

The exposure of kids to the adult content these shows directly or indirectly offer is another serious concern. In dance shows the kids are seen dancing on item songs while in comedy shows, the kids share adult jokes. Much hype is created when adult content is served through movies or television reality shows like ‘Big Boss’; but what about the kids on these shows who serve adult content and are asked to  flatter with guest celebrities appearing on these shows. This not only deprives kids of their innocence but also raises a question on the so-called Indian values and systems.

Should you feel the same way?

The long working hours of participants is also a matter of worry. Continuous rehearsals and shootings not only affect the education of participants but also their bonding with the family. It becomes difficult for them to manage their syllabus after long hours of shooting. Moreover, when these kids spend very little time with the family, it somehow creates a gap in relations and the kids become self-centric. The moral teaching of the child ceases and this may have detrimental impacts in the long-run. In my opinion the kids should therefore be allowed to shoot only on Sundays and holidays so as to manage academic syllabus and polish their skill. It will also give them enough time for learning moral values from elders at home.

The purpose of asking kids to beg for public votes is also something I fail to understand. There are experts on the show who have technical knowledge about that particular skill. Public voting is just a means of helping channels to earn money. A scripted emotional drama is mostly developed around the kids to gain viewers’ sympathy and maximum votes but it may have serious repercussions for the children. This sometimes leads to injustice as the public mostly votes to the cutest or the one belonging to their region or many times to the one portrayed into pathetic condition.

Are you responsible?

One of the most serious impacts of such shows can be witnessed in the form of imitation of stunts by the little viewers. It may sometimes be a wonderful experience to watch kids performing mesmerizing aerial acts or deadly fire stunts, but hardly few of us realize the aftermath. Though the producers as well as channels easily run away from their responsibility by telecasting a statutory warning asking for parental concern; is it really enough? The parents should definitely take care but this should largely be expected if such stunts are aired only during the original telecast. Such acts serve as great means of earning high TRPs and thus are telecasted repeatedly on various news channels throughout the day. Moreover, if kids are to be held responsible then it should be noted that the statutory warning is given in English which most kids fail to understand.

Modern child labor

The concerns do not end with the participation or winning but continues even after the show is over. Child labor is prohibited in our country, but we can still find it in different forms. As soon as these kids appear on television, they are renowned. As a result, a number of event management companies in their city start offering them performance opportunities on occasions like marriages, new year parties, religious gatherings, and brand launches etc. The kids are offered huge sums of money and this develops a lure in parents as well as the children. The learning somehow stops while the earning starts in a tender age. The kids should only be allowed to participate in competitions. Performance in any other sponsored event for money should be considered as child labor.

It’s time to promote Indian talent through these shows rather than indulging into a vicious race of commercialization spoiling the country’s future!

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