Price of Fame: Life in Spotlight May Hurt 'Jon & Kate Plus 8' Kids, Experts Say

Experts question if life in the spotlight puts the Gosselin children at risk.

May 31, 2009, 10:59 AM

May 31, 2009 — -- From potty training to birthday parties, the cameras roll on even the most unattractive moments, including fights, family secrets and allegations of infidelity on the reality show "Jon & Kate Plus 8."

Every step and misstep of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their brood of 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old sextuplets are fodder for mesmerized TV audiences, who accounted for the nearly 10 million who tuned in to see the Season 5 premiere May 25. The Gosselins reportedly earn an estimated $50,000 per episode, and some experts are questioning whether the price of fame is putting their children at risk.

"The happiness of your children always comes first," said psychologist Jeffrey Gardere. "So what's the point of making all of that money if your family ends up being unhappy? If you end up getting divorced that money means nothing."

Spotlight on the welfare of the Gosselin kids comes on the heels of allegations that the reality show is breaking child labor laws. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor announced it launched an investigation Friday into whether or not the show is complying with child labor laws, since cameras roll on the children all-day.

Labor Department spokesman Justin Fleming told The Associated Press that the department is looking into a complaint against the show.

"In an already fraught situation on this reality TV show, it is a very interesting development," said JD Heyman, assistant managing editor at People magazine. "TLC has reacted by saying that they've done their utmost to protect the welfare of the children and that the show will go on."

The allegation raises the question if the Gosselin household is in fact a home or a place of business, where their children are essentially employees in their own home. TLC, which airs "Jon & Kate Plus 8," said it "fully complies" with state laws and regulations.

But should the show go on? With rumors swirling that the Gosselins' marriage is on the rocks and who's cheating on whom, fans are saying the reality TV megastars should focus on their family.

Viewers of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" have posted comments online demanding that the couple end the show.

"I wish that you both would take a break from filming, forget the show and work on your marriage. Please end your show -- it's not worth it!!!" one viewer wrote.

'Octomom' Next in Line for Reality TV Show

The Gosselins are not alone. Nadya Suleman, the woman dubbed "Octomom" after giving birth to octuplets in January, is set to start with her own reality show with her clan of 14, according to reports from Us Weekly magazine. The reality show will expose the trials and tribulations of daily life as a mother of newborn octuplets, but also points to a larger trend of exposing children to the limelight, which many find disturbing.

"There are a number of families of multiples that have gotten enormous attention. I suspect in a few years we'll look back at these families and wonder what went wrong and wonder how they can put their lives together after all this exposure," Heyman said.

Suleman's attorney Jeff Czech attempted to distance the Octomom's show from "Plus 8," saying that camera crews will only document selected events -- perhaps the octuplets' first birthday.

The season premiere of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" focused on the sextuplets' fifth birthday party, and the couple addressed reports of alleged infidelities and the state of their relationship. In a testimonial, Kate confessed that she wonders if the sextuplets' fifth birthday party might be the family's last major event together.

While the reality TV show attempts to strike a balance between hit ratings and the well-being of their children and family, many fans of "John & Kate Plus 8" have posted words of support for the family, in hopes that they will work through this difficult time. Thirty-nine more episodes of the hit show are slated to air this season.

ABC News' Sheila Marikar contributed to this report.

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