Once there was a world where the sound of children rushing for the school bus would fill the mornings. Early evening, they would be back home to grab a quick bite and rush off to the playground. Evening was also for doing homework, followed by dinner and a good night’s sleep. The word ‘stress’ existed largely in dictionaries and ‘competition’ meant an elocution or a drawing competition. The seriousness of life came to them as they grew up and they gradually understood these words better.
Many children today rush to shoot from school, paint their faces and don fine robes. They complete homework between the shots. They work like adults do. Kids sing emotional songs or gyrate to songs at an age when they are incapable of understanding their meaning, but are applauded for their mimicry. The TV channels and mobile phone companies make a fortune at their expense.
Talents hunt shows for kids make children realize the meaning of stress the hard way at an age when their mind is most fragile. The prize money is a tempting factor to participate on such shows. One child wins the show and walks away with the coveted title leaving behind several others whose confidence is shaken.
Parents even lend their kids to celebrity couples on reality shows aiming to let couples find out for themselves how taxing parenting can be. Does parenting really require classes? It is mindless entertainment and to actually lend babies just weaned from the breast for such shows defies the notion of parenthood. How ethical is it to stand by and watch babies being traded like this?
The winners of talent shows or protagonists on TV shows become posters of glamour overnight. They win accolades and speak about their life and work to other channels waiting to cash in on their popularity. Their statements sometimes come under the scanner, and they are taught to speak diplomatically. The parents of these star kids do bask in their child’s glory.
Isn’t this a form of child labour too? All this fame and popularity lasts as long as their show does. TV stars have a short shelf-life. Any warnings or discussions on this topic only become new sensational stories sure to become stale news tomorrow. All the words of wisdom about a child’s innocence seem to fall on deaf ears. We have gifted kids with stress and ushered them into the world of extreme competition and insecurity. The question still remains ‘Who benefits from this whole situation and how much remains to be seen?’
Tanvi Gokhale (TE IT)