#Opinion

You Thought Kids Acted Like Adults Only On Reality Shows? Have You Browsed Through Reels?

Instagram Reels Children
Instagram reels children: One of the biggest put offs for me when it comes to Indian reality television for kids, is the way children are often forced to act. It isn’t just about gyrating to songs with objectionable lyrics, or enacting suggestive moves. We see kids flirt with the male or female host/ judge on the show, talk about ambition on levels of “do or die” and cry or worry over their family’s financial situation and their parents’ unfulfilled dreams, the burden of which rests on their tiny shoulders. But kids behaving like adults – is this limited to reality television these days? Think again.

Just recently I came across a reel made by a child film artist in which she lip syncs to a romantic song. This wasn’t an isolated reel. And as I have been informed subsequently, this behaviour isn’t isolated to Instagram. It is as if children’s talent, mostly chronicled by eager parents, has moved to spaces beyond television. This new space allows these kids to showcase their talent, reach out to a wide audience, all from the comfort of their homes. They don’t have to spend hours cooped up in the hostile environment of filming studios. The schedule is also flexible to suit the kids. But if reels and videos are just an extension of what we have been watching kids do on reality shows, then is this a step in the right direction?

YouTube is full of videos compiling various clips belonging to short form video sharing apps in which kids can be seen mouthing dialogues about revenge, heartbreak, love, ek tarfa pyaar, bewafai and whatnot. Filters and makeup is duly used to perk up the appearance, expressions on the face match the dance steps frame by frame. Stardom found, innocence lost.

Do guardians who put their children’s “talent” on reels for public consumption fully understand the risk to their cyber safety? What measures do they take to ensure that photographs and videos of their primary school kids don’t fall in hands that would misuse or abuse the content? Do they consider the psychological implications of letting their kids behave, act, dance, talk like adults? The question here isn’t just about what’s appropriate or not, but also what is healthy for these kids and what isn’t.

Platforms will come and go, what needs to change is Indian parents’ tendency to heap their dreams and expectations on their wards without thinking about the long-term and immediate consequences it could have on their child, especially in times when negativity and hostile intentions are merely a swipe away.

Image Credit: Pixabay

The views expressed are the author’s own.


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