Should Kids Be on Reality TV?

With Jon & Kate Plus 8 and Balloon Boy making headlines, we ask experts if there needs to be a law to protect them
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Should Kids Be On Reality TV?

With Jon & Kate Plus 8 and “Balloon Boy” making headlines, we ask experts if there needs to be a law to protect them.

-Carol Kramer

Kate Gosselin and some of her kids

In the last two years, we’ve watched kids on reality TV working like dogs for 14 hours per day (Kid Nation), getting yelled at by surly caretakers (Nanny 911), exposed to incompetent parenting by clueless teenagers (Baby Borrowers) and undergoing toilet training in front of a national audience (Jon & Kate Plus 8).

All bad enough. But it took the sight of Falcon Heene, the child who has sadly come to be known as Balloon Boy, getting sick on the Today Show to make the entire nation nauseous as well.

Millions of us stayed glued to our TVs on October 15, praying and watching the live drama as helicopters and jets flew over Colorado tracking a silver balloon supposedly holding 6-year-old Falcon. But, we ultimately found out, the child had been hiding in the attic, per his father’s orders.

The purpose of the hoax: To get the Heenes their own reality show. (“You guys had said we did it for a show,” Falcon innocently said on TV. “Man,” his father replied apprehensively, knowing that the truth couldn’t be hidden any longer.)

“Balloon Boy barfed for all of us,” said commentator Jere Hester on “His saga—along with the plight of other children irresponsibly thrust into the reality TV spotlight—is a stomach-turning affair.”

The national reaction against Falcon’s parents has heartened activists long pushing for ethical treatment of kids on reality TV.

“Now everybody gets it! We cannot keep doing this to kids,” Paul Petersen, a kid star on The Donna Reed Show and now an advocate for kids on TV, told BettyConfidential. His organization, A Minor Consideration, ( has been trying put an end to the exploitation of children on television for years.

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7 thoughts on “Should Kids Be on Reality TV?

  1. I think it’s horrible the way reality tv exploits children. Would anyone be so obsessed with the Gosselin ordeal if the reality show had just been Jon & Kate (with no plus 8)? No, it’s just because of the children involved

  2. I am not sure how any LOVING parent could truly enjoy NOT doing what’s best for their children, and clearly being on television is not what is best for a kid.

  3. Eh, I think the majority of kids on television are actors. They’re child actors. So, wouldn’t that mean they are protected just like other child actors? You know, only allowed to work certain amounts of hours, on-site teachers, etc etc

  4. Oh for God sake’s the Gosselin children are on TV two days a week for 3 hours a day, how on earth can that be harmful to these children? What is harmful is the conduct of the parents, if the parents (especially Jon) would stay out of the news for a minute these children would be fine, but no the parents have to have their face in the news each and every day, they have to have picnics right by the fence so the pp can film the kids, this is what is hurting these children, not the TV show itself!

  5. Why does the media persist in reporting on these horrible, common people? Jon is not even remotely attractive and Kate is boring. They sold their family into a reality show for big bucks. What is so interesting about these trailer park trash people?

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