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October 22, 2014

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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