Reality TV: Bad for Child Stars?

Critics says it's exploitation, but others call it education
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2008 5:41 PM CDT

(Newser) – CBS’ Kid Nation has drawn its share of controversy, which hasn’t stopped a new crop of kid-centric reality shows from cropping up. NBC is letting teenagers care for babies and toddlers on The Baby Borrowers; a Nickelodeon channel probes children’s emotions on The N’s Student Body; and A&E’s Psychic Kids teams pint-sized mediums with adult ones. This new breed of shows is exciting the exact same debate as Kid Nation: Is reality TV too real for its young stars?

“These are the signs and portents of a culture in collapse,” said one former child actor. “We no longer protect children. We market to them. Gleefully.” But producers say they’re trying to educate, not exploit. The Baby Borrowers, for example, warns against teen pregnancy. “As long as it's done incredibly responsibly and with ethics, and as long as it has a good purpose, I think it can be a really, really good thing,” the producer tells the Washington Post.