British children are bombarded every day with overtly sexual imagery and references.
That’s the main conclusion of a six-month review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood by the Mothers’ Union.
Citing explicit music videos, overly suggestive magazine covers and many forms of advertising surrounding kids every day, the “Letting Children Be Children” report has some strong recommendations.
These include restricting certain music videos to late night schedules, covering up explicit magazine covers, rating advertising and videos in the same way films are, and making it easier for parents to block certain content from appearing on kids’ mobile phones and during their use of the Internet.
Many people would echo the sentiment that kids should be allowed to be kids, and may even go along with many of the recommendations. Implementing them is quite another matter.
As a case in point, Prime Minister David Cameron said he agreed with taking a central approach to tackling these issues but didn’t seem ready to try to introduce legislation.
Music Videos and TV
The notion of a watershed is a rather outdated concept in the days of the Internet, video on demand and time-shifting programmes via digital recorders.
Certainly refraining from TV advertising and explicit content during live primetime and kids programmes is definitely a good thing, but it takes education and discipline from parents to ensure kids don’t stumble across undesirable content.
It’s not the first time that lads magazines have come under fire for their content. Then shadow education secretary Michael Gove suggested they were “contributing to irresponsible behaviour and the breakdown of family and society”.
Covering up mags and ensuring they’re not sold to kids should be fairly easy to do, though many would be more concerned with a loss of revenue by not getting the free advertising a prominent place on the newsstands affords.
Internet and Mobile
Tackling the flood of detritus that comes over the Internet and, increasingly, via mobile phones, is not an easy one. No filters are 100% secure and even vigilance can only do so much.
Much has been written about keeping kids safe online. Finding a sensible balance between automatically blocking undesirable content and educating children on acceptable use of the net is what’s required. Some things can be left to legislation but ultimately it’s still the responsibility of parents to educate their kids.
Here are some resources and other articles that you might find useful:
- Tracy Beaker gets behind Safer Internet Day
- Porn star calls parents to protect their kids online
- Kids doing stuff online their parents wouldn’t approve of, survey finds
- Orange launches mobile and broadband advice site for families
- Full control of kids’ mobile phones now available to British parents
- Teens and pre-teens increase cell phone use during the summer
- Unique family-oriented broadband service offers peace of mind to schools and parents