In the past, childhood meant playing with the neighbors’ kids outside, listening to grandma’s bedtime stories every evening, going to bed early, dinner meal with parents, good breakfast, as well as reading stories and cartoon magazines when there was no social media or smartphones. Today, we are witnessing a transformation as many parents have forgotten about the presence of their children and assigned the duty of taking care of them to the housemaid as an ‘alternative mother’. Even worse, some are abusing their kids’ innocence through social media.
When parents exploit a child’s innocence by introducing them to the world of social media and reality programs, those children become a source of money to the parents who only want to make money and achieve fame by using their children to be ‘creatures for sale’ and win large number of viewers.
It is a social and moral felony in the violation of the rights of children, and parents are directly responsible for any psychological harm caused to the child. Every conscious person, including officials and journalists, must be aware of the seriousness of this matter.
Three different studies, with one going back to 2007, showed that kids just want to be famous. Clearly, the days are over when children wanted to be doctors or policemen. Now, they want to be actors, singers, YouTube personalities, or media influencers.
According to the Daily Mail, a study was conducted in 2009 in the United Kingdom that consisted of a survey completed by children, who were asked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. The top three choices were sports star, pop star or actor, while Jobs like doctor or policeman were much lower down the scale. Sadly, we are now witnessing a phase of replacing ethics and principles of hard work, with achieving fortune and fame without really donning anything to justify that.
According to a new research conducted in 2018, kids are looking at modern technology when they think about future jobs. The study concluded that children’s career aspirations are often based on factors such as gender stereotypes or what they have seen in the media, TV and films. That is a big sign that there is a shift in the dreams of kids today, based largely upon new communications methods and the growth of online and gaming.
There are many studies in this regard confirming that the aspirations of children have become linked to the love of appearances and achieving success on social media networks like Facebook and YouTube, because the fact that these children do not realize that parents are the ones who drive them towards this fishy road, and it makes no difference whether the child in this case is a boy or girl.
In Kuwait, such manipulations of kids are often highly criticized. Kuwait also has a child rights’ law, as in many other countries which have laws that contain deterrent penalties for child cruelty and negligence, as well as holding parents full responsibility for providing child care.
More work is needed to prevent the exploitation of children and putting them in the media for the purposes of fame and money. This is based on the Child Protection Act, which stresses that children should not be subject to any physical or mental abuse. Unfortunately, some celebrities on social media are deliberately posting negative images and socially unacceptable things for circulation, especially that these behaviors have psychological and moral effects on the child throughout his life.
The law in Kuwait guarantees the child’s protection in the event of any incident of violence and the care and provision of treatment and psychological support as required by Chapter VIII of the law. The law places the custodian in charge of legal accountability in the cases that may occur as a result of his negligence, resulting in dropping the custody of the child and assigning another suitable custodian in the order of legal priorities. I think no laws should allow parents to use their kids by turning them to be slaves for money and false fame.
By Muna Al-Fuzai