Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
These days the first job I have in the morning is to scan the daily newspapers we subscribe to. Why? Because I have to see and assure myself if there is any objectionable content or visual in it. My daughters are growing up, you see, and they are in that stage of life where everything affects the psyche.
Increasingly, newspapers, that too those claiming to be most-circulated national dailies, are publishing stuff not fit for children. I don’t understand why a national daily should devote one full page to the photographs of best kisses or best love-making scenes in movies. I mean who is it for? Don’t the editors and publishers know that a newspaper is meant for all age groups, across different sections of society; that everyone reads a newspaper, from a rickshaw-puller to a business magnate.
TV serials and films are that way better, I feel. At least they mention about the kind of content they are going to show at the outset. So I can screen the TV programmes my children can watch, and even lock the channels that I find unsuitable!
With newspapers there isn’t any option. I wonder, why are national dailies like HT and TOI increasingly indulging in voyeurism? If it is too garner more readers, I must say it is a very pathetic way to do so.
Some people will call me old fashioned, but I strongly believe that there is an age for everything. There is nothing wrong in gaining knowledge, kids must be aware of everything, but knowledge should come at an appropriate age and time. I agree kids these days are way more smart and intelligent than we were at their age still they are as immature mentally as we were at their age. The maturity of mind comes as one grows older.
Some will also argue that since everything is available on the Internet there is no point in hiding it from newspapers. But let me ask one question here: How many children in our country have the privilege of accessing the Internet? A minuscule 3 % people in India have access to the Internet facility, the number of children will be far less than this.
Newspapers on the other hand are available to all. Being a cheaply priced commodity everyone has access to these; from a daily hawker to an industrialist, from a 5 year-old to a 90-year-old. This in turn means that voyeurism is literally served on platter to the people. Whether you like it or not, you must go through the pain of watching it.
Does anyone realise the kind of impact such visuals has on a child’s mind? How negatively it affects a child’s mental health? How it affects adolescent children can be seen from the behaviour of school kids these days.
Ask any school teacher and she will tell you endless stories about the ‘things’ happening in school. “We invariably spot students of class 7 onwards indulging in kissing et all,” says one of my daughter’s teacher . “What’s causing all this? It is all this direct bombardment on their senses which is destabilising them,” she adds. “Children have lost their innocence, and are in a hurry to become adults,” she says.
It is high time newspapers go back being the vehicles of social change these once were. Or is it asking for too much?