FORA Politics

Season 2008 Episode 1102

Battle of Ideas: Consuming Children

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Battle of Ideas: Consuming Children
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Dubbed 'corporate paedophilia' by some campaigners, advertising stands accused of corrupting young minds and turning children into either obese couch potatoes or anorexic wannabe celebrities.Youngsters apparently now spend more time watching TV than they spend in school, see more than 10,000 TV adverts a year and recognise 400 brands by the age of 10, as well as being exposed to online adverts often promoting products unsuitable for children, such as gambling and dating.UK Schools Secretary Ed Balls recently announced an inquiry to investigate a suggested link between advertising and increased anxiety, eating disorders, drinking and violent behaviour among youngsters, also noting concerns about the inappropriate 'sexualisation' of girls.Advertising seems to have become the focus of broader anxieties about what the Archbishop of Canterbury has dubbed 'the growing commercialisation of childhood'.Children's author Jacqueline Wilson worries that 'we are force feeding our own materialistic and consumptive culture into their mouths'.Are we creating greedy and materialistic children, too focused on buying and consuming 'stuff' to appreciate more innocent pleasures, or do such concerns betray more profound doubts about our ability to pass on meaningful values to the next generation?Do we over-estimate the power of advertising and the media, and underestimate today's techno-savvy 'digital natives'.Is it better to be safe than sorry, to have more regulation to protect impressionable children from malign influences? Or should adults chill out and stop over-protecting children? - Institute of Ideasmoreless
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