Sue Ann Vaz (Guest Writer & Media Observer)
Bigg Boss, Ghazab Desh Ki Ajab Kahaaniyan…controversy and your kid!
Read what our Guest Writer & Media Observer has to say.
Reality TV and Children
Revolutionary, with unlimited possibilities, television ranks as one of the most powerful influences in our lives, particularly our children’s.
Over the past decade, reality TV in India appears to have witnessed unprecedented growth. The controversial nature of this type of programming subjects children to a whole new set of desirable and undesirable influences.
This article examines what is already known about reality TV and its impact on children and how parents can smartly handle issues arising out of this phenomenon.
What is Reality TV?
Reality TV is a kind of television programming which consists of people appearing as themselves in a range of different contexts such as competitions, game shows, dramatic or humorous situations, makeovers, etc. that may or may not involve celebrities.
Mostly unscripted, reality shows rely on creating entertainment from uncertainty, shock, awkwardness and unusualness.
Talent hunts, job hunts, adventure or fear based programs, dating and personal interaction based shows are currently popular with Indian audiences.
News, documentaries, etc. are not classified as reality shows.
Some examples of popular reality shows in India in recent times are Bigg Boss, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Dance India Dance, Just Dance, X Factor and the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Series.
The Positive Impact of Reality TV on Children
One of the merits of reality TV is that it can be inspirational. It can provide viewers with good role models and influence them to make positive decisions, lifestyle and mindset changes. It can also enable children to understand the importance of ethics and values and enhance their critical thinking ability about life and society.
Reality TV can be educational and informative. Knowledge based shows urge children to probe their brains for answers and add to their learning.
The Negative Impact of Reality TV on Children
Television viewing in general has a number of ill effects on children such as negative psychological impact, lower grades in school, less time reading and on the playground, becoming overweight due to less exercise, etc.
Reality TV in particular raises different and more serious issues.
Studies have revealed that children who watch reality TV consider wealth, popularity and beauty as must-haves for ensuring happiness. Further, they imbibe that it is acceptable to resort to devious ways and means while competing for fame and money.
Some programs air very private confessions, vulgarity and profanity, blatant violence and sexual content. As a result, children become corrupted and desensitized. They may also develop a fear of the real world giving rise to sleep, attentional and behavioral disorders.
Combating the Influence
Children find it difficult to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Educate them that reality shows are mostly not a true reflection of reality.
Talk and discuss what you see, especially sensitive situations and topics. Point out what is acceptable and not, and why not. Identify the values each show may present and talk about them in detail to maintain a balanced view of what is important.
Limit children’s exposure to violence to prevent increased aggressive behavior. Television in general, and reality television in particular are doubtless powerful influences in children’s lives; but the power of smart parenting is unprecedented and above all such influences and must, under no circumstances, be underestimated.