20/10/2011 18:21 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

X Factor USA: Kids As Young As 12 Competing In Live Finals

Simon Cowell, X Factor mogul PA

On Tuesday evening, the finalists in the US version of the X Factor learned who would be going through to the live finals of the talent show.

The format is the same as the UK version, and the judges - Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and LA Reid are all familiar faces. One big difference though is the age range of the acts. American X Factor auditions children as young as 12 years old.

And for one of the youngest contestants, the moment she learned whether or not she was through to the live rounds was nothing short of cruel. As 13-year-old Rachel Crow waited to hear her fate, Simon Cowell kept her hanging, telling her: 'It's not great news. The child's devastation was almost palpable before he added: 'It's fantastic news... how could I say no to you.'

But Rachel isn't even the youngest entrant in the competition - in the groups category, mentored by Paula Abdul, group act InTENsity has 10 members ranging in age from 12 to 17. Sibling band The Brewer Boys are 14 and 17. Drew Ryniewicz, also in the girls' category and mentored by Simon is just 14.

The UK X Factor has changed its age restrictions over the years, initially being open only to 16 and overs. In series 4–5, the minimum age was lowered to 14, with the creation of a 14–24 age group, but the minimum age of 16 was again in place from series 6 onwards. Which, given the obvious pressure and intensity of the show, is surely the right decision?

More on Parentdish:
X Factor may be cruel, but is blindly championing your child's dreams simply unkind

What do you think? Is 12 just too young for a show as under-the-spotlight as the X Factor?
Or do you think it's fine, and that the UK age limit should also be lowered?