NEW YORK – Reality shows are among the best on television for children, a parents' watchdog group says.
Of the shows currently popular among young people, "American Idol," "Dancing with the Stars" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" are the most suitable, said the Parents Television Council.
"When we think of reality shows, we tend to think of offensiveness," said L. Brent Bozell, the PTC's president. "And yet, reality shows have gotten better."
The group took Nielsen Media Research's list of the 20 most-watched programs among children aged 2 to 17 over the past year and judged which they deemed suitable or unsuitable for them to be watching. Six got the greenlight, nine were judged not right for children and five were "questionably suitable."
Half of the most popular programs among kids were scripted, and the PTC said all but one were unsuitable. Only the long-running cartoon "The Simpsons" was thought to be OK.
"Desperate Housewives"? "Grey's Anatomy"? "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"? They're popular among both adults and kids, but they're really not right for young people, the PTC said.
"It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but the odds are if it's a scripted show, it's going to be problematic," Bozell said.
"Deal or No Deal," "Survivor" and "America's Got Talent" also landed on the PTC's list of suitable programs for youngsters.
Bozell acknowledged that parents have to take responsibility for what their children watch.
"The ultimate responsibility is not just the parents but the (TV) industry and advertisers," he said.