While surfing the TV, and analyzing the plethora of various Pakistani TV channels, though not a fan of the Pakistani drama, I do randomly have a glance every now and then while switching channels, occasionally watching the whole episode, if a well-written script grips me throughout. But a common observation that I make every time I watch a Pakistani drama, is the absence of children as if children are not a part of our daily adult lives. It might sound absurd, but child characters are rarely present, in most of the content airing on TV. This points to an alarming imbalance in the portrayal of different realities of life as shown on TV. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg.
The news channels, while beating the trumpet of, being the first to break the news, often cover crimes such as rape, murders, honor killings, target killings and horrific accidents with graphic details. On top of that, news/events with even a hint of positivity, are usually not covered by the media.
The gruesome terrorist’s attacks - a norm in our country, also negatively impact the adolescent minds, traumatizing them in some cases as it is not possible to completely keep such news away from the kids. Videos featuring the explosions, shooting, and blood spatters, are repeatedly played by all news channels, without consideration that such content cannot be deemed appropriate for the viewership of children. All this is done with the self-centered objective of attaining higher ratings. This situation warrants a focus on healthy entertainment, exclusive for kids on the TV while quite the opposite is happening. But who cares, right?
There seems to be a complete neglect of children entertainment - presenting something that the little ones can also relate to and relish.
However, the grim ‘kid’s entertainment’ issue, is only a symptom of the larger problem that is, our society is becoming less and less friendly or compatible with children as time passes by. The APS attack, kidnapping, abuse of children in Lahore and lack of opportunities for children to play outdoors is a clear evidence in this regard.
There was an uproar after a call for banning the famous Indian dubbed cartoon - DORAEMON in the Punjab assembly, initiating a debate on social media, newspapers and blogging platforms with people presenting arguments on whether a ban on the cartoon was justified?
But did we stop to think, why our children are attracted so much to Indian dubbed cartoons and characters and not our own?
Be it news channels or entertainment, there is no slot for an exclusive “kids time” or a Children based sitcom, there are also no local cartoons that the kids can watch or Pakistani cartoon characters which they can idolize, forcing them to turn to the likes of Disney, POGO, and Nick. The Indian TV shows have successfully filled the vacuum created by us. But, the cartoons airing on these channels comprise of mature adult content most of the times.
Tragically, the extensive debate on the ban of Indian cartoons was not followed by measures to provide quality entertainment to Pakistani children. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise when in the future, the majority of the Pakistani children suffer psychological problems, owing to the criminal neglect. On the other hand, they may even begin to imitate the mature acts as seen in the Indian cartoons or get acquainted with the Indian culture more than their own, since naturally, they tend to be very receptive at their early ages.