Section 2: Is advertising appropriate?

There is a greater belief in 2013 than in 2010 that advertising treats children as adults.(14)

Both our research and interviews showed that generally, parents do not think that advertising aimed at children is appropriate to their age, and furthermore believe that goods and services marketed to adults are appealing to children because of the way in which they are presented

"(I) think sometimes you get adult things advertised on TV that shouldn’t be, for example, especially during kids’ shows like on the kids’ channels, like I’ve seen adverts for the loan sharks, you know Wonga and all those guys I think have come up on kids’ shows and I just think I know that sometimes parents watch these with their kids, but I don’t think it’s appropriate, especially in the way that some of it is advertised it almost looks like it could be targeted for kids when you get certain characters, for example. Was it the Wonga that had the old people as sort of like soft toys, and I think that is something that kids can pick up on and go oh, is that something that is cool? What is Wonga? Can we go to Wonga and get some money? .... It’s those kinds of things that worry me in terms of the commercialisation of children, all those things that are inappropriate for them."

Source: ComRes for Mothers’ Union

How does advertising affect children and young people?

Our in-depth interviews revealed that parents are worried about the impact that the commercial world will have on their child’s “sense of self”, sharing the concern that commercial and social pressures could have a negative impact o n their child’s confidence, with one key area of c oncern being body image.

Two - thirds (67%) of parents believe that advertising is responsible for giving an unrealistic body image ideal. (15)

"A big thing is the whole size thing, and already she’s said, ‘Oh the backs of my legs are fat’." (Mother of 8 year old daughter)

Source: ComRes for Mothers’ Union

"My biggest concern is that children are going to grow up feeling bad about themselves, with a very negative view of their own bodies/abilities and also that they are being made to grow up too quickly - leaving childhood behind at a time when they are not prepared for the pressures of an adult world - and not having time to enjoy the freedom of childhood and growing up."

Mothers’ Union Member UK (16)


(14) Source: ComRes for Mothers’ Union

(15) Source: ComRes for Mothers’ Union

(16) Mothers’ Union member comment in response to question: What would you say is your biggest concern when thinking about children and childhood in the UK today?