By Megan Evans / Staff Writer
By Megan Evans / Staff Writer
Exploited children and money-hungry parents have become a new form of entertainment.
There are two characteristics many people may think of when watching reality shows such as “Jon and Kate plus eight” and “Toddlers in Tiaras.”
But what effects do these reality shows have on the young and developing children who star in them?
Older reality shows had the premise of eating bugs, jumping out of moving cars, and racing around the world.
Now, reality shows have shifted from exciting and jaw dropping amusement to more “family oriented” entertainment.
A good example: “Jon and Kate plus 8.” This show is about Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight children; a pair of twins and sextuplets.
“We’re a family and we’re in this together. It might be a crazy life, but it’s our life.”
This is the opening for every show.
When the show first appeared on TLC, America fell in love.
The two twins, Cara and Madelyn, and the sextuplets, Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah and Joel, were unbelievably adorable.
As the show progressed, it became apparent that Jon and Kate did not have the perfect marriage.
But what was really causing all their arguments?
Was having 8 young children finally taking its toll?
Did the exposure to cameras 24/7 have an effect or were Jon and Kate just not made for each other?
Whatever the case may be for the crumbling marriage, the children were paying the price.
Not only were the children in the constant spotlight, but their parents were no longer getting along.
Sadly, Jon and Kate did not stay together. Their divorce was very messy and very public. In the end the show did its damage.
The children witnessed their parents go through a nasty divorce then had to see it on television, in magazines and online.
Reality shows are questionable to say the least, and even with child labor laws in affect, it’s possible children may suffer psychological harm from participating in these reality shows.
People may think child labor laws protect a child and regulate how much time a child can spend in front of cameras, but they are wrong.
If a child is a paid actor, he or she is restricted to a certain amount of working hours a week.
The child is also required to have a teacher and parent or legal guardian with them at all times. But when it comes to entertainment, the law does not apply.
When creating a reality show, the cameras are filming while the participants go about their daily lives, so it is not considered a job for the children being filmed.
“Toddlers & Tiaras” is a frightening reality show which should be renamed to “Toddlers & Stardom Starved Mothers.” This show follows around “willing families” to beauty pageants.
For many, the idea of dressing up 4 and 5 year olds as adults is just plain stupid and creepy.
Making them wear large amounts of makeup, fake hair, and use enlarged porcelain veneers is wrong.
America knows these mothers are the crazy type.
The type who dreamed of stardom as a little girl and never quite made it.
In return they force their daughters to think they want to parade around in ridiculous costumes and blow kisses to the judges.
But what happens when the children become tired of the spotlight?
The mothers reassure them they can quit at any time, but that is not enough.
Naturally, children want to please their parents. Even if these young girls are given the choice to leave the spotlight, the will to please their parents may overcome the desire to say enough is enough.
Another problem for children participating in these shows are the effects that come once the show has ended.
A reality show child star may become used to the spotlight and enjoy being under constant scrutiny.
But once the show has ended, and the spotlight has faded, children may go to extreme heights to catch even the smallest amount of attention.
Still, there are a few reality shows with participating children that are worth watching, such as “Endurance” which simulates a kid friendly “Survivor”, but without the threat of deadly bugs and starving participants.
Not all reality shows are harmful to the children who participate in them but what about the children who sit down in front of the television and watch any type of reality show?
For example, “The Real World” is filled with alcohol, sex and crude language.
The name of the show already suggests that it’s real and an adolescent watching this type of behavior may think that since it’s on the television, it’s reality.
One thing is certain, parents must stand up and draw the line somewhere.
For the children watching these reality shows, parents must make clear that although it’s called reality television, it doesn’t make it real.
And for the children participating in reality shows, its time the children’s physical and psychological safety be put first, and the cameras, spotlight and money-hungry parents take a back seat.