If you're considering hoisting your child into the spotlight, it's best to mull over the pros and cons of child acting first.
To begin, we'll start off with the cons:
A child actor will have an unstable schedule of school and social activity. While child actors have education right at their fingertips, it may come in the form of homeschooling or a combination of homeschooling and public or private school. As well, a child actor may not be around other children in a normal, social environment or may move from set to set, which may means he or she is moving from city to city and being constantly introduced to new, unfamiliar faces that often belong to adults. This environment can be exciting, but also chaotic and sometimes inappropriate for the child.
Many child actors will perform in innocuous television commercials or PG movies, but many also will help to create characters in films or television shows that are geared for an adult audience. This means that no matter how much they are shielded from the dark side of the entertainment industry, they may still be exposed to heavy subject matter that is difficult to process at a young age. This may force them to grow up a little too soon and can have negative effects on their adulthood down the road.
Probably the most alarming con of being a child actor is the environment they are thrust into. Even with constant adult supervision, there are bad influences lurking around every corner. The entertainment industry is filled with adults, just like any other business, and this means that a child actor may be prematurely introduced to drugs, alcohol, and sex. But that is not the only part of the environment that is risky. The film and television business is rough on every aspiring actor, so child actors may find the heat of competition and the cycle of auditions and rejections unbearable. It takes a strong, determined child to pursue acting!
Lastly, no matter how well-intentioned the parents of a child actor are, they may be accused of exploiting their own flesh and blood. Many infamous cases of child exploitation have occurred and really helped add to the negative stigma and paint a portrait of obnoxious, offensive stage mothers and fathers.
However, every child actor has different memories and a different story to tell by the time they reach adulthood. And for many, whether they were budding Hollywood stars or just doing random media stints, the experience was a positive, and even invaluable, one.
Here are the pros to being a child actor:
If a child discovers a special knack for something, perhaps playing the piano or inventing appliances out of cardboard, it's a parent's duty to guide the child in honing in on their craft. Youth is not only about having fun and learning your A's, B's, and C's, but discovering what your talents are. And if a child wants to perform, what better than to give them realistic goals and help them to achieve them? Child actors are encouraged to explore their talents and develop work ethic that relates to those specal skills. Child acting can be a learning experience and a stepping stone to a career, but whatever the case, it can be enormously beneficial to a child. Summer camps and theater classes can be safer, less intrusive ways for your child to determine the extent of how they feel about acting and if they have strong feelings and talent, professional acting may be a great outlet.
Fortunately, there are lots of laws in place that protect child actors from the many dangers and hazards of the entertainment industry. For example, it is not legal for child actors to be forced to perform stunts that might endanger their physical wellbeing. Moreover, it's illegal for them to endure situations that will be morally challenging or compromising – so their emotional wellbeing is taken into consideration by the government too. As well, child actors cannot be filmed naked or even partially naked or engaged in explicit sexual acts. Not to mention, education is mandatory for child actors, just like it is for other children, and additionally, the hours a child actor can put into his or her unique line of work are severely limited based on age. Especially with the likes of the newly emerged A Minor Consideration, an not-for-profit organization committed to protecting young entertainers, child actors have a lot of legal protection.
In such a competitive business, there is always potential for harm to a child actor. But that can be said for other children, who have normal social and academic lives in the public school system. The key to making the cons nonexistent and taking advantage of the pros is good parenting. A child actor must be the writer of his or her destiny – a parent has a lot of say, but not when it comes to an issue like this. Children who are interested in professional acting must be given as much control as possible over their career (unless of course they are too ambitious!) and the experience should always be viewed as a fun, educational experience, not a money-making one.