by Tim Hall
Is reality TV guilty of exploiting children?
Celebrity gossip is a major industry in our world, and the mills are churning out stories of a possible breakup of Jon and Kate Gosselin. This couple, in case you don’t know, are the adult stars of “Jon & Kate Plus 8”, a reality show on the TLC network.
Jon and Kate would not be stars if it were not for the fact that they are parents of eight children – a set of twins and a set of sextuplets that followed. Many are fascinated by scenes of life in such a hectic household. But the glare of camera lights may be taking a toll on the parents’ marriage.
A story carried recently by Reuters News Service wondered if the Gosselin children are being exploited. Kate’s brother and sister-in-law have gone public with a plea that the show be canceled, citing their concern for the children’s well-being. “Kids have bad times, bad moments, they cry, and having the camera zoom in on a crying child … this should not be a form of entertainment,” said the sister-in-law. Most parents would agree.
Children should grow up in normal environments, and frequent privacy is needed for that to happen.
The headline of the Reuters article, “Critics worry reality TV kids are exploited”, may say more than intended. While it is only reasonable to argue that children should never be considered as forms of entertainment, it is also reasonable to question whether TV exploits children on the other side of the tube. Not just the ones who are being watched, but those who are watching – should we also worry for them?
“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes,” vowed David in Psalm 101:3 (NKJV); “I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.” David knew nothing about television but he was right on target on the subject of influence. The less we expose ourselves to worldly influences, the less likely we’ll adopt sinful practices.
We would never open our homes to foul-mouthed strangers who have no shame. But don’t we do just that by means of broadcast programming? If David’s words don’t prompt preemptive actions, perhaps the words of our Lord will: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
How do ideas, good or bad, find their way into our hearts? Do we sometimes invite them in?
The list of child stars whose lives have taken ruinous turns is long. I fear for the Gosselin children and pray their parents will stay together. But I also fear for the millions of little eyes that watch scenes which have the potential to corrupt their minds.
by Tim Hall