A review into the increasing commercialisation and sexualisation of children in society has prompted new measures to stem the "creeping tide".
The Department for Education (DfE) announced on Tuesday its plans to implement the recommendations made by Reg Bailey in his independent report Let Children Be Children.
Bailey's research revealed parents are worried they were not in control and "children can't be children". Despite families wanting to take responsibility, they often did not know how to and this left parents concerned their children are exposed to inappropriate material, the report continued.
In response to the report, the measures which will come into play include:
- Consultation on the current age rating system and whether this should be extended to cover more music and DVDs, including educational and sports products
- Working with the music industry to have clear warnings displayed on online explicit videos
Bailey highlighted the importance of ending the exemption of music videos from age classification in sending a "strong signal" to music video producers of what is acceptable.
"This is a major concern for parents.
"Parents are also concerned about some of the marketing to children through digital media, which children may not recognise as advertising and could take advantage of children’s inexperience," he added. "So I would welcome any move by the advertising industry or regulator that ensures that advertising and marketing messages are always clearly seen for what they are."
Bailey has already received commendation from the Prime Minister. In a letter to the author, David Cameron described the report as "tremendous" and said he "very much agreed" with Bailey's approach.
"We should not to try and wrap children up in cotton wool or simply throw our hands up and accept the world as it is," Cameron writes. "Instead, we should look to put 'the brakes on an unthinking drift towards ever greater commercialisation and sexualisation'."
Children's minister Sarah Teather, who was responsible for commissioning the report, said: "It's clear many parents are fed up with their children being surrounded by adult images as they grow up and being targeted aggressively to get the latest ‘must-have’ items.
"Being a parent is a tough job at the best of times. The onus has to be on industry to stop undermining parents trying to bring up their own children, the way they want. It’s not acceptable for industry to simply ignore families’ worries.”
The government has already introduced the "ParentPort" website, a forum for parents to make complaints about inappropriate advertising and learn more about media regulation. Additionally, stricter guidelines have been enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority on sexual images in outdoor advertising, particularly near schools, as well as a blanket ban on under-15s being employed as brand ambassadors.
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