Policy recommendations

It is our belief that the following recommendations will help to ensure that:

  • Children are not exposed to inappropriate advertising and marketing.
  • Children are more resilient to commercialisation and peer pressure.
  • Parents are empowered to manage the impact of commercialisation and are more resilient to pester power.

In this way we can value children as children, not consumers, and further achieve our aim of ending the commercialisation of children.

Whilst parents need empowering to manage the impact of commercialisation on their children, they and their children should not face undue pressure from the commercial world. Resilience is important but managing commercial influences should not have to be a battle.

Recommendation one: We recommend that Parliament continues to address the impact of the commercial world on children. It is important that this issue continues to receive cross-party support.

Recommendation two: We recommend that existing practices are monitored and scrutinised to ensure that existing regulation is working.

It is important that industry adheres to best practice as well as regulation so that children are not exposed to inappropriate advertising. We believe that the UK should continue to strive to be an example of best practice in its approach to the commercialisation of childhood. Mothers’ Union strongly believes that when the impact of commercialisation on children is under consideration or being provided for, it is important that the standards set go above and beyond the minimum.

Recommendation three: We recommend that Government and regulators strengthen wording in the regulation of marketing and selling in relation to children so that it is harder to comply with the letter while avoiding the spirit of regulation.

Government needs to consider why parents are still concerned about the commercialisation of childhood and work to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate advertising and marketing. Whilst regulations on advertising to children and the display of sexualised content in the media have been tightened since the Bailey Review, there is evidence that a few companies are still repeatedly pushing the boundaries.

Recommendation four: We recommend that Government reviews whether current sanctions offer sufficient disincentive and, with the regulatory bodies, consider stiffer penalties after a certain number of complaints have been upheld.

Parents need to be better equipped to deal with the commercial world through increased awareness and more support. Whilst information is available, it is either not being accessed by parents or is not helping enough parents. Parents need information which is easily accessible and easy to understand.

Recommendation five: We recommend that Government puts into place incentives, measures and funding to increase parental engagement, with the energy that was shown with the introduction of ‘active choice’, in line with recommendation 10 of the Bailey Review; as well as investing in long-term monitoring and evaluation of such measures, including the numbers of parents reached and also the impact on parental awareness and understanding.

Developing resilience is critical to empowering and equipping children to withstand the pressures of the commercial world. Understanding the commercial world and preparing children to know how to interact with and behave in it is a critical part of ensuring protection against and resilience to commercialisation.

Recommendation six: We recommend that Government evaluates the media literacy resources aimed at children and whether they have developed greater resilience in children, in line with recommendation 11 of the Bailey Review; and provides the long term necessary investment to do so.