Youngest Reality TV 'Stars' in Danger?

The Osbournes came first, followed by the Kardashians, Snoop Dogg, Tori Spelling, Deion Sanders and now, the latest: Denise Richards.

Stars of their own reality TV shows, they have allowed cameras into their homes to document their families' daily lives. But as these shows focus on celebrity families, some are beginning to wonder what impact the spotlight has on the kids.

"I think it can become stressful, overwhelming, force them into situations that are developmentally out of synch," clinical psychologist and Emory University professor Nadine Kaslow said. "When the kids are alone, they end up bullying each other, being sexualized. Some of these kids are going to have certain stigmas for life."

"It's a huge risk," said expert Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, a spiritual life consultant and mother of three who lives in Los Angeles. "It can really trap or stereotype a child into a person they're not. Children change on a dime. They could be perceived in a way that is not authentic to how they are."

Reality shows turned their cameras on the real lives of celebrity families as a form of entertainment after "The Osbournes" -- about heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne, his wife Sharon and two of their children, Jack and Kelly -- became a massive hit for MTV in 2002.

One of the Osbourne children, Aimee, refused to participate in the show and even publicly criticized the family for their on-screen antics.

"When the kids are old enough, they do have a say and can make that decision for themselves," said Kimberly Speight Nordyke, a television writer for The Hollywood Reporter.

What about when the children are too young to speak for themselves?

"With younger children, parents are making choices for them that they are not making for themselves," Hirsch said. "I think this is parents seeking fame, not children. As a responsible parent, you don't put your children in a reality show."

Richards has been criticized for doing just that, allowing her two young daughters, ages 4 and 2, to appear on her reality TV show, "Denise Richards -- It's Complicated," which airs on E!

Her ex-husband, Charlie Sheen, went to court to try to block Richards from even doing the show, claiming it would exploit the girls. Richards ultimately won that battle but still had to defend her decision to include the girls to a skeptical public.

"If I have my kids on my show, I'm exploiting them," Richards told Redbook magazine. "If I don't, people will think I'm not a hands-on mom. That's why it's very important to me that the girls are part of it."

Richards told Channel Guide magazine, "People weren't saying [the show is exploitive], my ex-husband was saying it. It's funny, people don't say anything about the Kardashians, they don't say anything about Deion Sanders. ... The Osbournes, Snoop Dogg -- they all have used their families. All of the other families doing reality shows, I haven't read or heard anything about them exploiting their children."

Nordyke believes Richards is getting a lot of flak from people like Whoopi Goldberg on ABC's "The View" because of her high-profile divorce.

"My question would be, does Denise Richards have final say over what airs?" Nordyke asked. "Is she allowed to protect her kids from what people see on-screen?"

Even Hirsch is conflicted after watching a recent episode of the show.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...