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(photo credit: Courtesy )
Close to half the population opposes the appearance of children in television reality shows, a study published Tuesday by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center has revealed.
Commissioned by the Committee on the Rights of the Child chaired by Likud MK Danny Danon, the study measured public attitudes towards this growing but as yet unregulated phenomenon and prompted the committee on Tuesday to call for tighter controls and clearer guidelines for television companies using children in the genre.
According to the study, which was carried out last week by telephone and used a sample of 517 Israeli adults, 48 percent of the respondents said they disagreed with using children in reality TV shows, with only 21% saying that it was okay for them to appear.
Of the parents among these respondents, 51% said they were against it and only 21% agreed with the phenomenon.
“It’s clear that the public expects higher standards from reality TV shows and it is vital that we consider the welfare and security of children that participate in them,” Danon told The Jerusalem Post following the meeting.
Israel produces only a handful of reality TV shows that include children and mostly within the framework of programs that focus on the family as a whole, such as “Super Nanny” and “Step-Family” (the Israeli version of “Wife Swap”). However, the popularity of reality shows is growing with many shows taking up to 30% of the overall TV ratings. Currently, Israel has no legal regulations on children’s presence in this genre, even though there are some restrictions on general programming involving minors.
Out of those questioned for the study, an overwhelming 81% said that there was a need to impose restrictions on the participation of children in reality TV too, with 66% calling for a complete ban on children taking part. There was no significant difference in attitudes between those questioned who have children and those who do not.
In addition, 71% of respondents said they believed that participation in reality TV affects the privacy of children; 62% said that it creates social difficulties for them and 59% said they felt it was detrimental to relations within the family.
However, 69% of those questioned said they thought the children might benefit from the accompanying advertising and 60% said some of the programs allowed families dealing with certain problems to receive professional assistance.
With very little international research existing on the longterm effects of children participating in reality shows, the Knesset Research and Information Center’s study points out that the experience is generally considered harmful to privacy and damaging to relationships within the family.
The research also looked at the situation in some 25 countries, out
which only 11 have some protection for participating in reality TV.
Australia, US, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, France,
Canada, Croatia and Romania were the countries identified with
guidelines, mostly provided by watchdog agencies that regulate
broadcasts. Some of the other countries included in the report, such as
Bulgaria and India, have recently conducted public hearings on the
participation of children in reality shows and have discussed bills that
limit their participation.
Danon’s committee gave studio producers and the Israel Broadcasting
Authority 90 days to create a binding agreement that would provide
clearer guidelines for children participating in reality TV shows here.