Stars at any cost

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A stage with a red curtain

In recent years, especially in our region, competitions have become popular. Among them, one thing that is increasingly widespread is talent shows for children. In these, children aged 5 or 6, or those aged 15 or 16, compete with each other while performing on a big stage, being filmed by a lot of cameras, and evaluated by celebrities. All this in public, in front of a big audience.

When I see all those children, I cannot but wonder: What is the impact of these competitions on the development of the child’s personality? Are the children mature enough to face so many responsibilities and deprivations? Are they ready to play by the rules of the media companies that design these products? Do you ever ask yourselves the same question?

When I see all those children, I cannot but wonder: What is the impact of these competitions on the development of the child’s personality?

A recent survey conducted by UNICEF and the Agency for Electronic Media of Montenegro has shown that every second parent in the country would not send his/her child to a TV competition for singing, acting, dancing, etc. At the same time, this means that every second parent would send his/her child to such a competition.

The shows do include those children who are not striving to win at any cost, i.e. those who are not there just because of the rewards or fame, but who do it for the fun and entertainment, and for whom the outcome is totally irrelevant. These children are accompanied by their parents who wait behind the scenes, greeting them with warm words of support after the performance, regardless of how the children did.

Unfortunately, my impression is that such children are in the minority in those competitions.

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A microphone on a stage.

It seems to me that parents who are coming to these competitions only with high standards for their child are dominant, expecting their child to perform like a real celebrity at the age of 11-12.

Striving to meet their expectations, these children get lost in the wrong ambitions and receive bad ratings and criticisms from the celebrities, as well as from their parents. Then they worry about what their peers at school will say and whether they will mock them because of their failure. This results in severe emotional reactions, disappointment, tears, depression, and stress.

There is also a related “inexplicable mystery” to me: if these programmes are intended for family viewing, why are they broadcast so late in the evening?

There is also a related “inexplicable mystery” to me: if these programmes are intended for family viewing, why are they broadcast so late in the evening? Why are the children shown on screen from 10 pm until after midnight? What is TV turning them into? Are they being used as bait for ratings or is it a marketing trick, given that they are shown at a prime time that is not intended for children? Do you ever ask yourselves the same question?

My recommendation to parents is to encourage their children to apply for festivals that have less media coverage, where there is no explicit criticism by experts or pressure from the public. This way, their music experience and education will contain more joy and fun, and certainly less trauma.

Matija is an 18-year-old UNICEF volunteer from Podgorica, Montenegro. He graduated from the High School of Economics Mirko Vešović in Podgorica, in the law program. Besides that, Matija also loves art, he is a musician and has two recorded songs. He also likes writing, playing the guitar, dancing traditional and modern dances. Matija is a member of the first team of 'UNICEF Volunteers - Young Reporters' formed in 2018 within the media literacy campaign 'Let's Choose What We Watch'.

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