Dad dot info
DAD.info form. Ask questions, get answers

Child Genius – Are You Watching?

 

 

Channel 4’s game show for gifted children raises questions about pushy parenting and unattainable standards of achievement  

Channel 4’s controversial series which sees hyper-intelligent children aged 7-12 compete against each other in tests set by Mensa is now a few episodes deep into its third series, but the questions raised by the show aren’t going away.

Neha trash talks the competition | Image: Channel 4

For many of us, watching a strikingly confident seven-year-old (Neha, the youngest contestant) look straight down the barrel of the camera lens, smile conspiratorially and declare “As long as it’s me, I don’t actually mind who wins” is just a little disconcerting. Another young boy, David, explains how he believes his advanced qualifications set him apart from his friends: “I feel I’m better than, well, practically everybody.” This type of overly ambitious, self-focused mentality goes against the grain of teamwork-focused attitudes British junior schools normally attempt to instil in young pupils.

David in 'child under 12 wanting to play computer games' shocker | Image: Channel 4

The other extremely worrying element of the show is the frequency we hear the word ‘pressure’ being banded about by both kids and parents alike. Having moved his family from China to the UK to aid David’s education, the young boy’s dad Peter explains, with noticeable frustration, that “sometimes David wants to play games, and is reluctant to study.” Hold on a second – wanting to play, rather than do homework, is fairly typical childhood behaviour, last time we checked.

Peter tells David he was disappointed by his son’s C grade at A-level, despite the fact that he got the qualification before he turned 12… and also believes that parents these days are too overprotective: “We need to put the kids under pressure.”

Thankfully, not every parent of the gifted competitors shares the ‘my child must win’ attitude. Dr Bama Perumal, mother of young Neha, recently told the Birmingham Mail that she wasn’t worried about her daughter being put under pressure by the stress of the show. “We just told her to do her best and to learn from the experience, which is more important than winning… For me, it’s not about winning the competition. It is about how you are facing the challenges and thinking: ‘How do I improve myself?’ That’s the most important thing. You should have confidence to face everything in life, because that is life, and it comes before intelligence.”

One of the benefits of parenting a gifted child means never having to pay someone to do your tax return again | Image: Channel 4

Bama Perumal also believes that shows like Child Genius offer her child a more appropriate challenge than the activities Neha is set at school (Bourneville Junior High). Both the Internet and extra-curricular competitions like this programme do provide gifted children with more advanced resources and opportunities than ever before, but we have to question: how much is too much? All children need encouragement and stimulation, but many scientific studies have demonstrated links between advanced intelligence and behavioural, social and emotional problems in gifted children. The producers and commissioners of Child Genius are treading potentially dangerous ground – let us know what you think of the show in the comments. 

Child Genius is on Channel 4, Tuesdays at 9pm

Related entries

Disney Junior: Vampirina How to make Friends

Disney Junior: Vampirina How to make Friends

Parents, children, experts and Disney Junior, a preschool TV channel, have come together to create “How to Make Friends and Influence…Five-Year-Olds”, a video guide on how to make friends after research revealed “making friends” was a top concern for parents and...

THE BEST SOAP CHARACTER COMEBACKS OF ALL TIME

THE BEST SOAP CHARACTER COMEBACKS OF ALL TIME

It was all a dream… Dad.info looks back at some of the greatest soap comebacks ever… DIRTY DEN Dennis Alan ‘Dirty Den’ Watts, arguably one of the most infamous British soap characters, seemingly disappeared into a canal in Walford with a splash after being ‘shot’...

Dad’s Army: TV’s Greatest Dads

Dad’s Army: TV’s Greatest Dads

As the film adaptation of the classic British sitcom Dad’s Army hits cinema screens, DAD.info brings you our own squad of bumbling TV patriarchs – a ragtag band of paterfamiliases who charmed their way into our hearts despite their many flaws... Sandy Cohen (The...

Latest entries

How To Have A Holiday At Home

How To Have A Holiday At Home

If you’re anything like me and flip flopped about for ages, unsure what to do about booking a summer holiday this year amid constantly- changing Covid news, then you’ll be finding yourself at home for the summer. But while we may not be able to dip our toes in the...

The Best Way to Create a Household Budget

The Best Way to Create a Household Budget

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery. --Charles Dickens Money. It's not a fun subject, but a necessary one. Sorting your finances gives...

Ask Debbie – advice and support for Dads

Ask Debbie – advice and support for Dads

It's OK to not be OK Are you struggling? Could you use some advice from a qualified counsellor? Every week Debbie Pattison answers your questions. Please send them to info@dad.info. You don't know it until you become a parent but children test you every day. Lack of...

Pin It on Pinterest