Scott Pierce, who covers television for Salt Lake Tribune, criticized MasterChef Junior for using kids. And he warns that using kids in this manner opens them up to being attacked on the Internet. Pierce writes:
It’s a lock that the child contestants on “MasterChef Junior” are going to be subjected to hateful comments if not outright bullying by Internet trolls. And no parents should ever allow their child to put himself or herself in that position. Does it always go horribly wrong? No. But what good parent would take that risk?
His conclusion is that kids do not belong on reality shows. These shows, he argues, puts a lot of pressure on them and even if the show starts out benign, train wrecks can occur.
Given the nature of these competitions, it is usually the case that we see some unpleasant character traits emerge as time goes on. And we also know that reality television skewers what we see through skillful editing and manipulation of the events. MasterChef is no different in that regard. Pierce’s concern (and I share it as well) is that we could see something of the same but with kids. If you have worked with kids, you know some can be brutal at times (not physically but with words). In this case young kids are being asked to produce restaurant quality food to be judged by a trio of judges who, in the normal course of the regular show, really verbally sting those who bring up poor quality food. They tone it down for this show, which I applaud, but it is still a competition and each week two will go home (they have a rule that each night’s competition will end with two leaving).
Even so, kids are going to get hurt when their food sucks or they are told to leave the competition. There is simply no way to sugar coat that bad news. Pierce does have it right: Internet trolls are going to make hay with some of these kids. I doubt parents thought about it deeply but they ought to have. Having seen what these trolls can do, it can really hurt a kid to see themselves targeted on the Internet. And it is possible that some of those cute faces have a nasty side to them as well.
For Fox, getting people to watch is not easy considering what it is up against at 8 p.m. ABC has Last Man Standing, which handily beat out MasterChef Junior in the first half hour last week. And then over at CBS is Undercover Boss (a full hour) which also beat out MasterChef Junior. Now again the believability quotient comes into play. Which is more believable: a show that has the top officer of a company going undercover to see how things operate or a show that has 8-13 year old kids trying to cook restaurant quality food?
Source: Only bad parents let kids go on reality TV(27 Sep 2013, Salt Lake Tribune)