14/09/2011 02:46 BST | Updated 13/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Families 'Pressured To Buy Material Goods Instead Of Spending Time With Their Children'

A leading children's charity has called for a ban on television advertising aimed at under-12s after a study revealed that many families feel pressured by a materialistic culture in the UK.

Unicef UK called for the move after research has shown that children feel trapped in a materialistic culture and don't spend enough time with their families.

The charity said the research provides some insight into the underlying issues behind the English riots - which saw children as young as 11 looting stores.

The study, conducted on 250 children from Spain, Sweden and the UK, found that youngsters' happiness was dependent on spending time with a stable family and having plenty of things to do, especially outdoors, rather than on owning technology or branded clothes.

But despite this, parents in the UK said they felt tremendous pressure from society to buy material goods for their children, a Unicef UK spokesman said. The pressure was felt most acutely in low-income homes, he added.

The research suggests that parents in the UK lose out on spending time together as a family, due in part to long working hours, and often try and try and make amends by buying their children gadgets and branded clothes. In contrast, in Spain and Sweden, family time is prioritised and people feel less pressure to own material goods, the study found.

As a result, the charity has asked for the Government to consider following the example of Sweden by banning television advertising aimed at children under-12.

Unicef UK's executive director David Bull said: "Right now politicians are grappling with the aftermath of the riots and what they say about our society, culture and families. The research findings provide important insights into the pressures children and their families are facing and may speak to some of the underlying issues relating to the disturbances. It is vital that those in power listen to what children and their families are saying about life in the UK."

Children's Minister Sarah Teather responded: "We know strong, stable families are the bedrock of a successful society. We want to make sure all families have the help and support they need.

"That's why we are consulting on plans to help parents better balance work and family life through more flexible and generous parental leave and flexible working. We are also looking at ways to give families better access to advice and support on parenting. We share Unicef's concerns about the rise of consumerism among children, and it's worrying to see that in some cases parents are under the same pressures."