Childhood ‘dying in spend, spend Britain’

UK Telegraph 12 Dec 06
Childhood is under threat from a deluge of marketing and advertising aimed at the young, according to a new report endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The impact of the consumer society is now so deep that seven out of 10 three-year-olds recognise the McDonald’s logo but only half know their own surname, said Compass, a Left-of-centre think-tank.Children were “engulfed” by images – sometimes of a sexually suggestive nature – of how they should look and what they should own. Parents were subverted by the barrage, which “exploited children’s emotional vulnerabilities in the name of profit”. The average 10-year-old had “internalised 300 to 400 brands – perhaps 20 times the number of birds in the wild that they could name” and British children are among the most materialistic in the world, ahead of even the Americans, it said.The report, Commercialisation of Childhood, comes amid a national inquiry by the Children’s Society into childhood conducted by the Government’s unofficial “happiness tsar” Lord Layard. It reports next year. Leading figures including Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and patron of the national inquiry, are concerned that rampant marketing is behind rising levels of stress, depression and low self-esteem in children. He said the Compass document was timely and pertinent.

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