Parents still concerned about impact of commercialisation

Parents remain concerned about the impact advertising and marketing are having, both directly and indirectly, on the lives of children and young people a new Report reveals. 

Research published today by Mothers’ Union reveals that despite welcome attention since 2010, four in five (80%) parents in Britain are  concerned about the commercialisation of childhood, and a similar proportion (81%)  say that the media encourages their children to ask their parents to buy them things that they see advertised, indicating the potential impact of “Pester Power”. 

The research, which was carried out by ComRes with over 1,000 parents in Great Britain in 2010 and 2013, also demonstrates that the proportion of parents who think advertising that can be seen by children is well regulated has decreased since the charity’s previous research in 2010. Just 30% of parents in Great Britain agree that advertising is well regulated in 2013, compared to two in five (39%) who said this in 2010. 

The report has been welcomed by Chairman of the Children’s Society and Bishop of Truro, The Right Reverend Tim Thornton, who said: “I am concerned to read this new and powerful report and commend the Mothers Union on their work.  As Chair of the Children’s Society I know how important it is to strive to enable children to be children.  The research demonstrates how pervasive commercialisation is in our world.  I hope we all take this seriously and consider how we can increase our own resistance to ‘pester power’.”

Mothers’ Union will be continuing the Bye Buy Childhood campaign, and is calling on the Government to consider why parents are still concerned about the commercialisation of childhood. Through the report they make six recommendations to Government that they believe will ensure children and family life are not adversely impacted by commercialisation.  One MP, Fiona Bruce has already given her support - speaking as both member of Mothers' Union and MP she said ‘The Mothers’ Union ‘Bye Buy Childhood highlights the very real concerns which so many people have about the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, and that the window of childhood closes all too quickly in our country today. Congratulations to the Mothers’ Union for continuing to engage with and challenge policy and decision makers to do more to tackle these issues, and to support parents to do so.’

Speaking at today's launch, Lucinda Hasell, head of faith & policy at Mothers' Union said “We are calling on politicians to ensure that this important issue remains a priority for the next government. Nearly half of parents we spoke to (45%) felt that advertising treated children as adults and 68% felt that advertising seen by children can be harmful to them. It is important that industry adheres not simply to the letter of existing regulation, but also considers how to meet the spirit of the regulation. Parents need to have support in both this way and also in the resources and information available to them, to ensure that the childhood of their children is valued by society as a whole.” 

The qualitative research reveals that parents want to equip their children to be confident and ‘their own people’. Mothers’ Union ongoing campaign will work to ensure that parents, children and young people are educated, equipped and empowered to help create and increase resilience.  To read the report and to get involved in the campaign visit