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October 4, 2015

Should children be allowed on reality TV?

by Michael Pascua, posted Jun 24th 2009 5:02PM
Emilia from Toddlers and Tiaras gets ready.After the separation of Jon and Kate Gosselin, one is left wondering: what will happen to the children? Jon and Kate Plus Eight isn't the first reality show to feature children, but many including Jon and Kate, place their children in questionable situations.

What makes exploiting children the same as a twenty-something who wants to win Big Brother? Family reality shows have done everything as well, including swapping mothers, adventure races, fixing houses, and general living with life. There's got to be a point where the legal guardian has to say enough is enough. Aren't child labor laws in effect with the 24/7 families?

I understand that in episodes of Jon and Kate Plus Eight they mention that if the kids don't want to be on camera, they ask nicely or just close their doors, but often times the show goes on the road visiting places and the children's reactions are taped. They have no real choice about that matter. The Roloffs of Little People, Big World drew the line with their daughter Molly, who wasn't seen often so she could go through puberty without cameras focused on her. Some families are just thrust upon the TV world with all their dirty laundry hanging and they let it happen.

There are a few exceptions to taping kids on reality shows. Talent shows don't often pressure the kid as heavily as cameras surrounding them 24/7. The kid performs, gets off the stage, and either advances or doesn't; it doesn't affect their lives with cameras in their faces. On the flip-side, I'm scared of shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, yet another one of those wonderful TLC programs, where the cameras follow willing families for a week, because you know the mother often have dreams of stardom and they are projecting it on their children.

Two shows I believe had the most capable children were Endurance and Kid Nation. Both had the kids run the show and both ended up being more of a summer camp than anything. I think without heavy interaction from parents, the kids got to be themselves. Granted, all the kids of Endurance are teens and several of the older kids of Kid Nation helped the little kids but it was autonomous. It shows that when parents are around, reality shows make odd turns.

The next show I'm worried about is the Great American Roadtrip since it looks just like The Amazing Race: Family Edition. You know the family from Yonkers is going to stir up trouble. The only positive thing that came from Race was the normal Gaghan family. They were well adjusted to the cameras and positive the whole time.

If we start getting children's dating reality shows on Cartoon Network, I'm drawing the line. Which reality kids do you think have adjusted well to camera and who's parents need to be reprimanded? Leave your comments below.

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I though Kid Nation handled the situation well -- despite the pre-airing controversy regarding payment and hours worked. The kids were obviously treated really well by the production team and were never embarrassed or shown in a bad light ("bad" moments were always balanced by positive ones). Seemed liked the kids all got something out of the experience as well. I know that my children loved watching it.

June 25 2009 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There should be a law against anyone on reality shows!

June 25 2009 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James J. Gutierrez

you are going to love this...

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June 25 2009 at 3:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NO NO NO NO NO there should be laws that make it illegal for children to be on a reality show of any kind. File that under the category of child porn because it is involuntary exploitation.

June 24 2009 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I begin to think that perhaps Paul Petersen of A Minor Consideration (and former child star himself) has the right of it.

Children in "reality" shows should be treated as performers, with all the legal protections that involves, and separate representation provided to make sure their interests are being adequately provided for.

June 24 2009 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really don't understand why most of the media think it is fine for kids to be exposed on reality shows, they really have no say, their fame and money-hungry parents are making all of the decisions. Most of these kids will probably end up as screwed up as Danny Bonaduce and Dana Plato (RIP).

June 24 2009 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


June 24 2009 at 5:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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