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Kids Reality Shows: Neo-Child Labour?

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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?

Do let us know your views in the comments below.

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  1. Deepak Joshi

    Its kinda child labor. The word “Child Labor” is used to be related to poor and needy families. But now its easy to classify this one. Because of the mentality of middle class families specially. Some of them got good amount in expanse of the liberty of their child.

    It’s parents’ competition actually. In cities ,a trend had been developed in which children are playing major role in parents importance and dignity in society. A society of such parents. They are interviewed before the admission of toddlers even even for nursery school. So, those parents began to start expecting more from children. If one boy or girl don’t know how to dance or how to swim or how to sing on different occasion in society those parents feel inferior. Here they need to understand the quality of their child , not to comparing with others.
    Comparison is the worst thing.

  2. Gitanjali

    A very true point said! Today’s children have little in their childhood to remember about other than the trophies and certificates they have accumulated; no playing in the rain, no climbing trees, no idle time to dream fantasies….

  3. Devika Mittal

    @deepak.. “It’s parents’ competition actually.” agree wid u.

    @gitanjali… ya they actually don’t have a chilhood! that phase of life is disappearing..childhood is nw more of a transitionary phase. they r being prepared to become adoloscents n adults in their childhood…

  4. yssubramanyam

    creativity of child must be enhanced. any program me adversely affects the children psychology must be banned.

  5. Devang

    I believe its child labor! (Dance India Dance, boogie) shows
    make a ton of money on all aspects of broadcasting the show; I can assume that
    a certain % of the profit is pocketed by top management.

    Now how is that different then a kid making a shoe or cleaning a car? If you
    can put then in front a camera have them dance? I think it’s the same

    It does not really matter if its parents induced pressure or society induced
    pressure for kids to want to go and dance, but I think that this issue needs to
    be looked at from 3rd respective.

    I don’t have a problem with kids enhancing their future; I do have a problem
    with the ethics involved in it for making a profit for the top management and
    people who consider this is OK!

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