Too much too young? – guest post by Agnes

This is a guest post by Agnes Nairn, my friend and co-author of Consumer Kids, on the report out this week by an academic panel (including her) looking at the evidence aroundildren growing up in a commercial world.

10 academics from a range of disciplines and viewpoints were assembled in May 2008 to assess “The Impact of the Commercial World on Children’s Wellbeing.”  Quite an ask!  But we worked hard, debated hard and produced a substantial and rigorous report on time in April 2009.  We’re still not sure why it took 9 months to publish…

Its purpose wasn’t to make policy recommendations (maybe it would have been published quicker if we had) but we made some robust statements particularly about new media e.g.

“New media and marketing techniques raise some ethical concerns about potential deception and threats to privacy: the public is currently not well-informed about this area, and existing regulation is insufficient in some respects.”

And we raised issues which need more public debate e.g. commercial influences in schools

“Schools and public places are increasingly being used as marketing venues and being affected by privatisation and commercialisation.  The implications of these developments for children’s wellbeing remain to be identified.”

And areas where there just isn’t enough transparency e.g.

“Information about the children’s market is not easily available in the public domain or for public scrutiny.  It would be in the interests of both public accountability and of the public profile of businesses themselves for such information to be more widely shared.”

Codes for new media need to be tightened – We need a debate on commercial influences in school and play places – We need more public information about how much is spent marketing to children.

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