Kids Reality Shows: Neo-Child Labour?

Posted on June 13, 2011 in Media and Culture

By Devika Mittal:

Little girls showcasing their ‘talent’ through racy, anarkali numbers, where they are marked for their expressions. Pre-teens singing intense love songs. A 10-year-old boy was asked if he had dedicated his performance to his girlfriend. A little girl ends his life when her parents refused to let her participate in a reality show.

There was a time when ‘reality shows’ for kids meant quiz competitions. Boogie Woogie was just a dancing competition. Children either won or took back chocolates. But today, all major channels offer ‘great opportunities’ to toddlers, kids and adolescents. They can be seen singing their larynx out, dancing till their little feet swell and cracking jokes on issues they hardly understand and sometimes, its better that they don’t even try to.

It is always a delight to see kids perform- the cuties beam with innocence. But today, people judge them on ‘real’ talent. Today, they either win or take back failure and rejection. As children, we always wanted to speed up our growth somehow and become adults. But now we know how beautiful the process of growing up actually is. We now cherish that innocence, the care-free attitude and a simple and optimistic outlook towards life. But today, children are being judged by their capability of acting and behaving like adults. We learnt with time and experience. They learn by ever-increasing competition. Young children are being exposed to ‘the mad world’ for which they are not ready yet. They are being exposed to the world of glamour. They don’t understand the risks involved. The adults find it difficult to cope with the competition. The mad-rush sucks life out of people. How can we expect kids to deal with this? We were exposed to competition gradually… But they are being exposed to high-level competition at an early age. Why? And who is to be blamed for this?

School? Media? Or peer pressure? Well there is a closer agent. A group of people who tirelessly remark about the ‘Gen-X’ or the “Aaj kal ke bachche”. They lament how in their time, they never had so many facilities or the exposure. They idealize their childhood… How they used to spend their vacations in their villages, how they neither had nor required TVs and cellphones… And how their lives were ‘simple’. So what has compelled them to give a different childhood to their kids? They say the times have changed.. “aaj ke bachcho pe bohot pressure hai”. What kind of pressure are they talking about? Who is creating that pressure?

The state of our economy is always the scapegoat. Money alone speaks. They say, for money, people can give away everything. And in this case, people are even ready to sell their kids’ childhood. Talent, competition, pressure… it all boils down to one thing and that is money. It’s like the economy is the stove, the capitalist forces are the flames and the children are pressure cookers. Isn’t this child labour?

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