Positive Childhood – Commercialisation of Children

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Welcome to the Positive Childhood Commercialisation of Children page. Whether we like it or not, our children are commercialised.  Think back to our own childhood compared to theirs and we can quickly see how things have changed.  We wanted to open up an honest debate and allow parents to discuss how they feel about this.

What Parents Think

Our research before Christmas showed that

  • 64% of parents feel their child puts them under pressure to buy something they have seen on tv or in ads
  • 82% of parents think there should not be ads between children's tv programmes
  • 15% of parents have seen inappropriate advertising near schools, creches or places that children frequent
  • 91% of parents think music videos should have age ratings

One parent commented "Children are bombarded with advertising.  When I was a child (born 1972) there was not as much children's television, and there were not as many toys.  These days our children are exposed to an incredible amount of advertising, all cleverly designed to appeal to them by adults.  I know that my children have been very disappointed by products which they have wanted from seeing an advert, but on actually having the toy in their hand, it is not what they expected at all.  They do not have enough experience of the world to be able understand.  And nor should they, leave them alone and let them be children."

Another said "There are definitely more adverts nowadays. However, when I was younger, even if there were loads of adverts I knew there was a limit to what I would be getting as my parents always instilled a sense of worth to every item. Parents can't always blame advertisers, they have to take responsibility too!"

Why is this issue important?

As a society we're increasingly treating our children as mini adults. The line between adult and kids brands is blurred. 

And our children watch TV, listen to music and use technology, much of which was designed for adults. 

Sheena Horgan, ethics & youth marketing specialist discusses this in her new blog post Are children now mini adults in a commercial world?

Related: Where do we draw the line on adult brands crossing over to kids’ clothing?

What can I do as a parent?

  • If you have an issue with something in a shop – maybe the clothes are 'too sexy' or the imagery too adult – then let the shop know.  And contact Retail Ireland, tel (01) 6051558 and email retail@ibec.ie.  They recently launched Childrenswear Guidelines which many shops are now signing up for.
  • If there's advertising at a bus stop, in a paper or magazine or on telly, that you're uncomfortable about contact The Advertising Standards Authority Ireland (ASAI)
  • If it's a TV ad then you can also contact the Broadcast Authority of Ireland (BAI).  Their code with regard to children states what is and is not acceptable.
  • And let us know too. We'll collate parents' concerns and bring them to the appropriate attention too.

What are your thoughts on the commercialisation of children?  Tell us in the comments below

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