Section 1: The playing field
Since the launch of Bye Buy Childhood in 2010, the commercialisation and sexualisation of young people has received much attention; including the Government asking Mothers’ Union’s Chief Executive, Reg Bailey, to conduct an independent inquiry on the issue, resulting in a series of recommendations in Letting Children Be Children (9), against which notable progress has been measured. Following this, Mothers’ Union has been pleased to see positive action taken by the advertising industry and regulators, such as the introduction of new guidelines on on-street advertising, the strengthening of online protection and the creation of the ParentPort (10) online complaints service.
Less than one third (30%) of parents agree that advertising that can be seen by children is well regulated. (11)
While the majority of the Bailey Review recommendations have been implemented, our latest research found that only 30% of parents agree that advertising that can be seen by children is well regulated, a decrease of nine percentage points since 2010. Additionally, there has been a seven percentage point increase in the proportion of parents who disagree with this statement over this time period, showing increased concern that advertising that can be seen by children is not well regulated.
65% of parents agree that online advertising is less well regulated than more traditional forms of advertising. (12)
In 2013 we also looked at perceptions of how online advertising is regulated compared to more ‘traditional’ forms of advertising such as print or television, and found that 65% of parents felt that online advertising is less well regulated than more traditional forms of advertising.
Our research indicates notable concern among British parents about the commercialisation of childhood, and while awareness has been raised by previous activities, more work still needs to be done to protect children and young people.
n 2010, we sought to understand who parents thought had responsibility for monitoring the content of media and advertising, out of a number of bodies such as regulators, media companies, the Government and parents themselves. In 2013 slightly more parents placed responsibility on themselves than in 2010, and slightly fewer placed responsibility on regulators. Whilst the difference was not significant enough to detect a trend in perception of where the weighting of responsibility lies, we know that parents still do recognise the role they have to play, as well as still believing regulators and Government also have a responsibility.
We feel that the commercial world could do more to protect children from inappropriate content; and that parents still need help dealing with the content of media and advertising. Additionally, we strongly believe that there is still a clear role for regulators to play in holding advertisers to account, and considering whether a review of the current sanctions is necessary to assess whether the current self-regulatory framework determining what can be advertised to children is still appropriate.
(11)Source: ComRes for Mothers’ Union
(12)Source: ComRes for Mothers’ Union