LONDON, England (CNN) -- British broadcaster Channel 4 has been criticized for creating a new television show which looks at how children as young as eight would cope without their parents for two weeks.
Channel 4 said the program was made with the parents' full consent.
Boys And Girls Alone -- which will be aired in the UK on Tuesday evening -- has been compared to adult reality show Big Brother.
The show allows 10 boys and 10 girls between the age of eight and 11 to create their own mini-societies, organizing everything from what they eat to how they should entertain themselves.
Ultimately the children are shown on camera squabbling over sleeping and cooking arrangements and, as they split into factions, some of them feel "picked on," the show's publicity says.
This has led to a stream of criticism from British lawmakers and children's charities, who have labeled Channel 4's "experiment" a disgrace that "served no purpose other than to cynically boost ratings," according to Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper.
Camila Batmanghelidjh, of the charity Kids Company, was quoted by The Daily Mirror as saying: "Any situation that leaves a group of young people without the mediating presence of a responsible adult is cruel and abusive." Do you agree? Share your views
Labour MP Denis MacShane told the newspaper that "children should be protected and not exploited for commercial gain."
However, Channel 4 defended the show and said it features "the kind of tussling you'd get in any playground -- but no physical violence."
It added that one boy pointed a knife and fork during the series but emphasized that no one was in any danger, Britain's Press Association reported.
"This is not a project for commercial gain. It is done with the parents' full consent," a Channel 4 spokesperson was quoted by PA as saying.
"They were watching and there were mentors and a clinical psychologist who made sure there were no problems."