The TV channels have also been advised to exercise maximum restraint, caution and sensitivity while showing such reality shows and programmes.
These days, children in India are exposed to many things on TV channels through various programmes, shows and serials. A closer look at most advertisements on TV should pave the way for a healthy discussion between parents and educators to raise concerns about what is suitable for children to watch. Researchers also pinpoint towards the mental well-being and emotional health of children who are pushed to compete with each other on TV reality shows, many of them later turning depressed at a very young age as they are not mature enough to understand that ‘failure’ happens and that a healthy competition involves winning and losing.
Countries like France have consistently urged parents to not allow children under three years to watch TV and the American Academy of pediatricians in the US advocated for a complete ban on TV screen time until a child is at least 18 months.
Now an advisory has been issued by the I&B Ministry taking note of several dance based reality TV shows which portray young children performing dance moves that had originally been done by adults in movies and other popular modes of entertainment. Given that these dance moves are often suggestive and age-inappropriate, it is noted that this may also have distressing impact on children, thereby impacting their minds at a very young and impressionable age.
Therefore, the I&B Ministry has directed private satellite TV channels to adhere to the provisions contained in Programme & Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and its rules.
According to the above mentioned rules, no programme should be carried on TV which denigrates children. Also, TV programmes meant for children should not contain any bad language or explicit scenes of violence.
Further, the I&B Ministry has issued an Advisory to all private satellite TV channels to ensure that they avoid showing children in a suggestive and inappropriate manner, particularly in dance reality shows or any such programmes. The TV channels have also been advised to exercise maximum restraint, caution and sensitivity while showing such reality shows and programmes.
In 2008, France blocked a TV channel from launching and banned broadcasters from targeting under three year old children.
In his book on the subject, Dr. Aric Sigma highlights global concerns with region-specific models. For instance, he cites that on an average a teenager from Britain spends six hours watching the screen at home. If this statistic is not disturbing enough, the number is as high as up to eight hours in North America. According to the doctor, the most critical time for a child’s brain growth is in the first three years of life.
The Canadian Paediatric Society says that no child should be allowed to have a TV, computer or video game in their bedroom.
As more child-friendly initiatives thrive across other countries, it is the small steps that India can take which can eventually make a big difference to create the right kind of impact for the well being of children.