I choose to be a child, what about you?

Reality TV programmes were trending on YouTube in Montenegro throughout 2018.

Lana Jovanović, 15, young reporter - UNICEF volunteer
Lana Jovanović, young reporter - UNICEF volunteer
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019

18 September 2019

"I want to have a big car and be a star!" These were the words uttered in an overly confident voice by a little girl sitting near my park bench. The girl was nine, I would say. She had long wavy hair and beautiful brown eyes. However, there was no peculiar childlike curiosity in them.

That made me reflect for a moment.

She was playing a video game on her smartphone.

On average, children in Montenegro spend 8 hours a day in front of a screen.

Is she one of those children?

Would there be more childlike curiosity in her eyes if she replaced playing video games with playing elastic, hide-and-seek or dodgeball?

Would her wishes about what she wants to have and be when she grows up be different?

How many of these wishes are influenced by the media? What media content does she follow?

Reality TV programmes were trending on YouTube in Montenegro throughout 2018. According to a survey conducted by UNICEF and AEM, almost one-third of parents do not restrict their children to watching only media content appropriate for their age, and one-quarter of Montenegrin parents do not talk to their children about such content.

Do they choose what they watch at home? Do they talk about it, and how do they do this? Do they know how many "stars" presented to us through the media every day are actually like that in real life?

And what does this desire to have a big car mean? She is probably thinking of an SUV – the current status symbol.

I am not sure if she has read "The Little Prince" and I do not know if she knows that once she grows up, she will no longer see the "snake that swallowed an elephant" but a mere hat...

"Hi", I said to her and showed her a picture of a snake swallowing an elephant. "What do you see?" "A hat," she said. She seems to be a grown-up already.

I was saddened by the thought.

Even today, as a 15-year-old, I never decline the invitation to ride a bike or play with a ball. And all I want is to be happy.

Carefree.

I choose to be a child, what about you?