The commercialisation of childhood is a major concern of many UK parents who feel that young children are experiencing too much too young. Mothers and fathers regularly tell us that they don’t want to see their children face commercial pressures.
Some unscrupulous businesses see children as soft commercial targets. They know that there are billions of pounds to be made to be made by convincing younger children to crave certain products and experiences – some of which are more suited to older teenagers and adults. They demonstrate little concern about the resulting stresses placed upon family wellbeing.
In the summer of 2011, the government-backed Bailey Review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood was published. The FPI, which has been at the forefront of the movement to halt the commercialisation of childhood since it was founded 11 years ago, advised the review's head, Reg Bailey. The Review recommended:
- The introduction of age ratings on music videos
- Easier ways for parents to block adult content online
- Strengthening the 'watershed' for TV viewing
- Ensuring explicit magazine covers are not in easy view of children
- Clamping down on billboards with sexual content near schools
Our response to the Review can be read in our Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood Briefing Paper (June 2011).
Shaping the debate
We have spoken up for parents and voiced their concerns in the media on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood.
Our 'Where Now For Parenting?' article series focuses on the future of UK parenting after the summer 2011 riots. Fleur Dorrell of the Mothers Union writes that the commercialisation of childhood was 'illustrated so dramatically' by the looting of shops during the disturbances - see here.
Junk food manufacturers are targeting children, providing unlimited access to digital games that advertise their products or ‘advergames’.
Advertising for food and drinks high in sugar, salt and fat (junk food) is banned during children’s TV. But children can have unrestricted access to advergames, often revisiting websites to play for many hours at a time.
Most children don’t recognise that these games are advertising a product. They fail to spot the ulterior motives of these advergames, which appeal to their subconscious and affect their choices and behaviour towards products that are often high in salt, sugar and fat.
Read our latest research Advergames - it's not child's play in hope to raising awareness amongst parents and children, as well as highlighting any examples that we think break the code of practice on advertising to children.
Business Thinks Family, Dr Agnes Nairn (February 2009)
The Family and Parenting Institute was involved in the writing of the Compass report The Commercialisation of Childhood (December 2006)
Hard Sell, Soft Targets, Family and Parenting Institute (February 2004)
Loughborough University research from 2010 into how the marketing and advertising industry target children.
Nairn, Agnes and Christine Griffin “Busted are Cool but Barbie’s a Minger: The Role of Advertising and Brands in the Everyday Lives of Junior School Children” Child and Teen Consumption Conference, 27-29 April 2006, Copenhagen