What Do the Children of Mommybloggers Have In Common With the Children of Kate Gosselin?

BlogHer Original Post

Where were all the child labor protection advocates back when America loved the Gosselins? Back when we couldn't wait to see the crazy antics of Jon and Kate and their eight children? Ever since they aired their dirty marriage laundry for all the world to see, the world has been a little less smitten with the Gosselins and a little more hungry to bust them for something. Kate Gosselin and the producers of the show are once again being questioned as to whether they are violating child labor laws by having the sextuplets -- all under the age of 7 and therefore not covered by the obtained labor permits -- on television.

Kate Plus 8

Image: Scene from Kate Plus 8, by Clark McCarthy-Miller/PA for TLC

I say "once again" because this topic seems to come round every few months. This time, a Pennsylvania representative, Thomas Murt, is pointing out that it's illegal in the state of Pennsylvania to have children under the age of 7 on television. Though, again, where was Murt during all the prior seasons if this has been in the Pennsylvania law books? If Kate Plus 8 continues (and ratings were down prior to this news), the show may only be able to film the twins. The investigation is looking into whether an illegal deal was made in order to get the (albeit inappropriate) permits. And Murt is also admitting that there may be cause for the law to be amended (wouldn't want to have those filming dollars leave the state!).

At the heart of all of this is the question of whether or not being on a reality television show constitutes work. In other words, is it actually labor to go about your life and simply have cameras around. There is no memorization involved, no skills to learn or stunts to perform. If I stick a webcam in my house and my kids stand in front of the computer, entertaining you with one of their witty bon mots, am I violating child labor laws?

Or does it only matter -- in other words, is it worth protecting the kids -- if there is a large amount of money involved? The end result is the same: Kids are placed in an entertainment position with the same chance of psychological scarring from the incident (which would be "none" from reality television supporters and "will need more therapy than there are therapists in the world" from reality television protesters.)

Taking it a step further into the realm of blogging, is everyone who recites amusing stories about their children within blog posts doing essentially the same things? The lens may be a lens of words instead of a literal camera, but in the end, a life is recorded and transmitted (sometimes for entertainment; sometimes to exchange information).

For those who believe it's detrimental to the mental well-being of the Gosselin children to grow up with cameras trained on them, do they believe that mommybloggers are having an equally detrimental effect on their children? And if not, is it scale? The fact that it's words instead of pictures? The fact that bloggers are not making millions of dollars annually based on the cuteness of their kids?

Taking how you feel about Kate Gosselin out of the equation, do you think children under seven should be able to be filmed for a reality show?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.

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