How do you react whenever you see a child dressed up in an outfit that seems more appropriate for adults? Do you find it cute when little girls carry little designer handbags or wear heels? How about those scenes in movies and TV shows when kids suddenly talk like they’re grownups?
While parents’ views and opinions on these instances may very well vary, there’s a definite change among kids today, according to the results of a survey by the Bailey Review of Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood, due largely to increasingly commercialized and sexualized content from mass media.
Part of the survey results revealed that 88 percent of parents feel that their kids are being pressured to grow up faster and around 50 percent expressed their concern with commercials and shows before 9 p.m., a time block normally reserved for more mature audiences.
In particular, these parents were dissatisfied with the following: • Clothes not being age-appropriate • Increasingly sexual content in music videos and shows leading to 9 p.m. • Mature themes in some soap operas
It seems there’s also a growing need for children to identify with peers and cultural fads. These parents also noted that they themselves also felt pressure to buy unnecessary, “non-essential” items for their kids just so they wouldn’t feel out of place.
Says Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers Union, “The increasingly commercialised and sexualised world we live in can be a challenging environment for adults, but even more so for children.”
“For us to let children be children, we need to let parents be parents. That means giving parents the support and encouragement they need to help their children understand and resist the harms they face. But it also means putting brakes on even greater commercialisation and sexualisation facing children in modern society. Only then can we look to create a truly family-friendly society that protects children.”
Sources: • April 13, 2011. Jen R. “Parents Feel Kids are Pressured to Grow Up Too Quickly” GrowingYourBaby.com • April 11, 2011. “Children ‘growing up too quickly;” ThisLondon.co.uk • April 13, 2011. “Almost nine out of ten parents think children are being forced to grow up too quickly” Education.gov.uk