Experts label Channel 4 show ‘Child Genius’ as “exploitative”

The series, which is being hosted by Pointless presenter Richard Osman, attempts to find Britain's 'cleverest child'

The ongoing Channel 4 series Child Genius has been slammed by experts as being “exploitative” and “a missed opportunity.”

The fourth season of the UK edition of the show – which debuted here in June 2013 – is currently underway, with Pointless presenter Richard Osman taking on hosting duties.

The show, which aims to find Britain’s ‘cleverest child’, has already been criticised during its current season, with its producers even coming in for criticism from viewers which compared putting children as young as nine years old under pressure as akin to child abuse.

Education journalist Wendy Berliner, the author of Great Minds and How To Grow Them, has condemned the show further, telling The Guardian that she believes the children who have been put forward to appear on the show have “been drilled to perform.”

“I am horrified by this programme for same reason that I’m horrified by circuses, beauty pageants or anything that appears to exploit animals or children,” Berliner said.

“It sends shudders through my very being,” she added. “There’s no creativity in what these children are being asked to do.

“Instead, they’re being put in a situation where they’re running out of the competition room in tears because they haven’t memorised an abstract and meaningless list as well as they’d like to have done.”

Child psychologist Prof Joan Freeman, who previously worked on the show before resigning in 2013 over the direction the series was going in, said it was “a missed opportunity.”

“The programme used to be a really interesting insight into the characters and lives of children who are highly intelligent. Now it’s just a competition that tests children on their ability to learn lists,” she said.

“The current format is not one I choose to use to look at gifted children. I don’t think it’s damaging. I just don’t find it interesting.”