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Entertainment of Monday, 15 May 2017


Kids’ reality shows - The good, bad and ugly

The just-wrapped kids’ talent reality show on TV3, ‘Talented Kidz’ was a hit series, thanks to the exploits of young prodigy, DJ Switch, who got viewers and social media buzzing throughout the duration of the show. Switch would eventually go on to win the show.

‘Talented Kidz’ is one of a few popular reality shows in Ghana that features kids. The others are ‘The Pulpit’, also on TV3 and ‘Amazing Child’ on TV Africa.

After the end of Season 8 of the ‘Talented Kidz’ show, there’s been some raging debate on the effects, positive and negative of such shows on the growth and development of the kids. Let’s also get into the chatter!

Well, Some Positives Here!
Such reality shows provide exposure to these kids and give them the opportunity to realise and project some talent they never knew about. It is also an opportunity for such budding talents to be enhanced and groomed, thanks to the availability of judges on the show.

Such shows also help build the self-confidence of these kids. They are emboldened and empowered to face challenges at home, school and the society in general.

Of course, the winning child has the room to define his/her career path early, while getting the necessary support and direction in pursuit of such dreams.

A Case of Child Labour?
One of the confounding issues that has come up in relation to these kids-oriented reality shows is that of Child Labour.

In Article 28:2 of the 1992 Constitution, child labour is clearly proscribed, to wit: “every child has the right to be protected from work that threatens his health, education and development”.

According to ILO convention 138 on minimum age, each country shall specify a minimum age for admission to employment or work. This age shall not be less than the age of completion of basic or compulsory education; and in any case shall not be less than 15 years.

In Ghana, according to the labour law, the minimum age for admission to employment or work is 15 years. This means that anybody less than 15 years engaged in employment or work is in child labour.

Having kids predominantly under 15 and infront of the cameras every weekend for close to five hours plus the hours of rehearsals throughout the week make kids’ reality shows such as ‘’Talented Kidz’ count for Child Labour?

Psychological Trauma
Psychologically, children are not yet old enough to face the pressures and stress of reality shows. The pressure to perform well and the disappointment of losing out on winning prizes can lead to frustration in children participating in reality shows.

Some psychologists and other experts have argued strongly that such programmes are not a healthy concept for the development of kids.

The pressure of appearing on national television is one thing and the handling of criticisms from judges could serve as another hurdle. They may feel humiliated if they are given a negative comment on their performance and that could go a long way of affecting their psyche and mental fortitude.

Winning a televised reality show comes with much aplomb – the fame and popularity. Making a good impression on such shows shoot these kids in the limelight and they become ‘idols’ in their schools, neighbourhood and homes.

When they are not in the limelight anymore and the fame suddenly fades away, they find it difficult to cope. Not every child is able to take that and it can result in deep frustration or at times, even thoughts of self-harm.

Undue Pressure
It’s a given fact that majority of parents put too much pressure on their children in matters related to academics and other extra-curricular activities as well. They do same to their wards signed to such reality shows.

Some parents have too much expectation from their children thus, become blind and unrealistic to the physical and mental capabilities of the child.

Many parents push their children to perform better and tend to put too much pressure on them to the extent, that when the children get negative remarks on their performances - they are afraid to face their parents.

You can’t rule out the allurement of the monetary prize and other goodies that come with winning. In some cases, the big prize money is the reason parents put pressure on their children to participate in the reality shows.

Sometimes, the children are not talented enough or passionate enough but still, the parents push them to participate in these shows because of the gains.
Also, some parents, who crave for attention, a little fame and recognition, use their innocent kids as conduits, especially when they (parents) did not have such opportunities.

No Quality Time For The Books
The Ghanaian parent is always confusing him/herself with the meteoric rise of the likes of Jojo, Arianne Grande and Justin Beiber, who all started as child stars.
Their system is built to somehow cater to child stars and their education. Ours; not so resolute and guaranteed!

There is endless amount of practice required in reality shows. The long hours of practice and rehearsals can become very physically tiring. There have been instances of adults collapsing on the sets because of exhaustion. These long hours of practice practically drain all energy from a person.

The time spent while rehearsing for reality shows is a lot. The studies and other activities of the child may suffer. Parents lose sight of the fact that, TV Stations put these shows together for content, ratings and revenue – and these shows come and go, but the academics of the child is heavily affected.

Many a time, these children have to compromise on their homework or preparation of exams because of these reality shows.

A Weak Protection & Support System
The Child Protection and Supervision System supposed to check the physical, mental and emotional conditions and safety of children attached to such reality TV shows are absent in Ghana.

The regulatory and monitoring mechanisms for such shows are not existent. TV Stations put together these shows, the children are exposed, they show ends, the cycle continues.

Children should be taken through some sort of therapy before, during and after such a tedious run of a reality show. They should be taught how to deal with failure.

Children should have a strong support system in case of failure or whatever challenges that may come with their participation in such shows.

They should be taken through orientation on how to deal with such frustration - with the help of psychologists and life coaches, provided by the TV stations in consultation with the parents.

Parents should not be so glamour-struck and pressurise the children just for fame or star-status.