Against childrens Talent Shows
It is necessary to reflect on the social and emotional implications of children's Talent Shows.
For some years now, especially at Christmas time, the so-called children's Talent Shows have been proliferating. These are television contests similar to programs for adults such as Masterchef, Operación Triunfo or La Voz, in which boys and girls compete against each other in various disciplines.
The aim is supposed to be to forge the future promises of each discipline from a very early age.music, cooking, sports... And incidentally, they say, to promote values such as effort, excellence or even cooperation among equals.
But the reality can be very different, and the consequences of participation in these programs are unpredictable and difficult to evaluate a priori. For this reason, it is necessary not to be fooled by their lavishness and to stop and reflect on the psychological consequences of such early and brutal media exposure..
Why Children's Talent Shows Are Not a Good Idea
The ages of those who aspire to be "minichefs", singers, and so on, usually range from 7 to 12 years old. However, it can be observed that despite the young age of the participants, they acquire a series of gestures, reactions and emotional expressions, more typical of adults under the pressure of intense work stress than of the carefree play of childhood or early adolescence..
It must be said that most of the responsibility for the fact that at such a young age such a great effort is produced, never belongs to its protagonists. It is always families who, perhaps without being aware of it, put their desire to see their offspring succeed before the possible consequences that this may have on their school development or on the configuration of their personality. personality development.
After a great competitive effort, girls and boys are subjected to the relentless scrutiny of their "coaches", who are usually artists or characters of recognized fame and successful careers, but who no pedagogical or psychological training whatsoever.. Even so, they not only give advice and warnings in the discipline in which they are referents; they also dare to give general guidelines on how to face other aspects of life.
They become idealized subjects for the adult audience, it is easy to imagine what it can be like for the little ones to be under the tutelage of recognized and idolized artists and characters.. These, through bleeding corrections, histrionic gestures and grandiloquent words, make comments about children's performance.
Often, they are as implacable and severe with those who are less adapted to the competitive level, as they are flattering and tender with those who show more talent, effort and skills. But what is most serious is that the corrections or lessons are given in front of the attentive eyes of a vast audience of millions of people, who watch their mistakes and successes attentively.
In minors, both flattery and public humiliation can sometimes be internalized in a very negative way.. It is a stage in which social recognition is fundamental for the configuration of a "healthy" personality. That's why while good results should be reinforced, reproaches, scoldings and corrections should always be given in private.
Winning or losing: a matter of effort or talent.
Although everything is impregnated with an atmosphere of fun and a message is conveyed in which "the important thing is to participate and have fun", the functioning of these "shows" is based on the competitive dynamics of a world, the adult of an adult world in which there are only two options: win or lose.
But in this case, the pressure comes at an age unprepared to take on a challenge as intense as it is ephemeral. It is the logic of "failure or triumph".
In case of "triumph" (which is unlikely, since only one can win).
They are ages in which one rarely has the capacity to assimilate praise and social and family admiration.. They will be the center of attention, but only for a short time. After success, life goes on as before, with the same difficulties and dreams. Returning to "real" life can take a heavy psychological toll.
The historical imaginary is full of "broken toys" that after a childhood of fame, money and recognition, have seen their lives splashed with scandals, addictions, suicide attempts and all kinds of problems, fruit of the bad assimilation of a precocious success. Celebrities like Macaulay Culkin, Joselito or Drew Barrymore, are examples of this dynamic.
In the case of not coming out triumphant (which is most common).
The explicit or implicit message that is usually sent to them is that, or they have not tried hard enough, or they do not possess too much talent..
All this, at an age when they are still unprepared to face failure, when it is easy to internalize the feeling of ridicule, since they do not have the personal tools to understand the pressure they are subjected to.
The consequences can be devastating: school failure, childhood depression, intolerance to frustration, etc.
Learning through play
The vital moment that goes from childhood to pre-adolescence, is a stage in which the interaction and a stage in which interaction and fun among peers is fundamental for the development of personality and sociability.. A phase of life in which cooking should be an experimentation, the practice of sports a game and in which singing, dancing or making music is something to be enjoyed.
All this remains in the background when what is transmitted is that the most important thing is to win and be above the rest.
There is a lot of talk about the importance of competitive spaces from an early age, with the aim of preparing children for a highly demanding adult life. This argument leaves much to be desired, since if there is a general consensus in most theoretical currents, in pedagogy and psychology, it is that in the first stages of life one learns by playing. And that means that the final result is not so important as the process of the game itself..
It is through play and repetition that children learn and prepare for adult life. School, conservatories and sports tournaments will come, so that they will internalize competitiveness. I am not saying that precocious talents should not be encouraged, nor that competition, properly understood, is bad in itself.
I believe that it is necessary to encourage effort and talent, but from cooperative play, pure enjoyment and mutual support among equals..
Therefore, my opinion is that the viewing by minors of this type of programs is highly inadvisable, and even less so, the participation in them. The model it reproduces is neither the most educational nor the most suitable for psychological development, with unpredictable consequences for the future.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)