Dayna B. Royal


One is forced to wonder whether any laws exist to protect minors whose personal lives are laid bare as their own parents thrust them into the paparazzi’s spotlight. This article addresses this question, considering the best legal regime for regulating employment of children in reality programming, and suggesting an alternative to the status quo. To that end, Part II begins by identifying the various harms reality programming causes, arguing that participating in reality programming is detrimental both to the individual children who participate and to society in general. Part III surveys the current legal landscape, addressing first the federal law on point—the Fair Labor Standards Act—and then numerous state laws, focusing heavily on those states with historic ties to the entertainment industry. Part III concludes that the current legal regime is inept at remedying this emerging problem and argues that state law is not the best vehicle to combat the problem. Part IV posits that a national solution is necessary. It canvasses the options, arguing that an express federal statute providing a sliding scale of prohibition for children in reality programming is the best way to address this problem. Finally, Part V maintains that such a statute will not violate the Constitution because it is within Congress’ Commerce Clause authority and does not violate parents’ due process rights or the First Amendment.