Parents believe children inappropriately targeted

Most parents believe that children are under pressure to grow up too quickly, with many blaming celebrity culture, adult-style clothing and music videos, according to new research.


The survey, forms part of the independent Bailey Review of Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood, which seeks to investigate whether new rules are needed to prevent retailers marketing inappropriate items to children.

The research found that 88% of parents think that children are under pressure to grow up quickly. Four out of ten (41%) say they had seen programmes or adverts on TV before 9pm that they felt were unsuitable or inappropriate for children due to their sexual content.

Over a third (35%) of respondents say companies should not send adverts to children’s mobile phones while 34% say they should not encourage children to click the ’like’ button social networks when promoting products to children.

Two thirds of parents say they had come across clothes, toys, games, music videos or other products that they felt were inappropriate for the age group they were aimed at.

Jack Wills ad banned for showing sexy images
Jack Wills ad banned for showing sexy images

Reg Bailey, chief executive of Christian charity Mothers Union, who is leading the review, was asked to review current codes on marketing to children by the Government in December. The inquiry will consider whether a watchdog or government-funded website to allow parents to register complaints is needed.

The coalition government has pledged to crackdown on “irresponsible” marketing and the sexualisation of children. Prime Minister David Cameron last year accused marketers of “exploiting children” through “irresponsible” advertising campaigns.

The research, carried out by TNS Omnibus, surveyed over 2,000 parents during February and March. The Bailey Review will be published in May.

In response to the research, Ian Barber, communications director at the Advertising Association, says: “The clear message is that parents worry about what kids see when Mum and Dad are not around. Given this, the fact that two-thirds of parents are happy with the way advertising to children works is a good start, but we can do more to provide better information and reassurance. Parental concern will never go away, but historic TGI data suggests that, if anything, their children are becoming less materialistic.”

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