"Boys and Girls Alone" Leaves Parenting Out of Reality TV

Filed under: In The News

Some are calling it "Big Brother Junior" or "Lord of the Flies 2009." But no matter what you call it, almost everyone is in agreement that UK reality show Boys and Girls Alone amounts to one thing: The exploitation of kids for ratings.

Producers put kids -- who were "volunteered" by their parents -- into two camps, one for boys and one for girls. Each camp consisted of three houses, and once filming started, the kids were left to fend for themselves. Though parents watched on closed circuit television, they didn't intervene unless things got dicey.

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Dicey doesn't even begin to describe it. By day two, many of the children were sobbing uncontrollably. Others turned violent. Says one mom, 'We went in on the third day and Matthew ran up to my husband, Neil, and hit him. Then he turned and twice hit me, which he's never done before. I couldn't believe how much he was swearing."

Interestingly, that same mom says she thought her red-headed, overweight boy would be bullied on the show, and she's surprised by his aggressive reaction. I say I'm surprised by her decision to put him on TV in the first place. In fact, I'm surprised anyone would think this was a good idea. Parents went in on day three to soothe the kids' frazzled nerves, but most stayed on for the full two weeks of this experiment. What do we learn from this?

Judgment aside, parents and producers did learn something about their kids. Without supervision, the boys turned on each other physically, couldn't fend for themselves well in the kitchen, and cried for their mommies. The girls, surprisingly, were far more "Lord of the Flies" in their behavior. They fought as aggressively as the boys did, but their bullying was emotional in nature.

What did the kids think? Twelve-year-old girl Charley says, "'I thought I'd like it without adults, but I was surprised to find it was really hard. My mum and I have grown closer now, and I help her at home when she asks me. I really appreciate my mum and dad now. I didn't realize how much you need your parents."

No one ever does, Charley. No one ever does.

What about you? Is Boys and Girls Alone about kids exploiting kids, or is it parents exploiting kids? Or, maybe it's Channel 4 exploiting all of us?

What Do You Think About "Boys and Girls Alone?"
Stupid and dangerous. What were they thinking?606 (46.7%)
Good idea, but poorly executed.245 (18.9%)
Typical reality TV trash.241 (18.6%)
Awesome. I can't wait to see it.205 (15.8%)

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.