Parents' Guide to

American Inventor

By Pam Gelman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

For Thomas Edison wannabes of all ages.

TV ABC Reality TV 2006
American Inventor Poster Image

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Produced by none other than American Idol's Simon Cowell, American Inventor is surprisingly clean. Early episodes of each season have their share of oddballs and strange inventions, but once the gimmicky inventions are eliminated and only serious inventors remain, the show begins to take on quite a different tone. Each finalist reveals the struggles, challenges, and emotions behind their projects; many have given up jobs, mortgaged their houses, and made sacrifices that have affected their families -- all because they believe in themselves and their inventions. While the inventors are likeable and it's hard to pick just one to root for, the judges tend to either bicker or look into the camera and give sugary exaggerations: "Boy, this choice is going to be brutal." Fortunately, it's up to the American public to make the final selection by a call-in vote.

American Inventor is a good show to watch with kids who tinker themselves and show potential as budding inventors. It's also great for kids to learn about taking safe risks. Parents may need to talk to their kids about the sacrifices some contestants have made and whether those choices seemed to be the right ones, given the circumstances.

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