'American Idol' lowers age limit: what is too young for TV?
'American Idol,' the Fox talent reality show, will now accept contestants as young as 15. Sports and parenting watchdogs caution about the glare of the global spotlight at too young an age.
(Page 2 of 2)
Child actors have long been “sacrifices on our entertainment altar,” says Sherry Hamby, professor of psychology at Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. The twin siren calls of fame and money are proving harder than ever for parents to resist with today's easy access, she says.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The rise of reality television as well as the Internet brings new pressure to attract attention. “The Sunderland family, like the Heenes and Jon and Kate before them, are really not that different from the parents that groom their children for careers as child actors or models,” she says, adding, “they are all exploitative, and the only thing that is really different is that they are moving that exploitation into the popular new realm.”
Ms. Hamby suggests that new attention needs to be paid to boundaries that will prevent further exploitation, adding that arranging for tutors, chaperones, and more restrictive labor laws is not enough. Great Britain, for example, has strict prohibitions against the photographing and paparazzi pursuit of minor-age celebrities. The child actors in the “Harry Potter” films for example, had some years of protection before they experienced the full force of fame, she adds.
While external rules are important, encouraging internal “insight” may be most useful for the young performer, says sports psychology consultant Garret Kramer of Inner Sports, an athletics coaching firm. “Our culture often tends to shroud the clear thinking of our youngsters,” he says, adding “ and if they don’t recall this innate wisdom that we all possess, they will trip. Again, we must remember that it is never the outside circumstance, it is the individual that steers the ship. If a youngster understands and holds him or herself accountable to this understanding, they will prosper; if not, they will succumb to the craziness.”
- Rehearsing to act ‘natural’ on reality TV
- 'Pants on the Ground': a scolding for young'uns on 'American Idol'
- Blog: Jordan Romero, 13, summits Everest: How young is too young?