Children over-exposed to sexual imagery: UK report

Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:02am EST
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - "Lads' mags" should carry an age warning and music videos with sexual posing should not be shown until late in the evening to help combat the equalization of children, a report commissioned by the British government said on Friday.

The report also said video games consoles and mobile phones should be sold with parental controls already switched on, and that an online "one-stop-shop" should be set up for the public to voice concerns about irresponsible marketing.

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, the report's author, said children and young people were exposed to growing amounts of "hyper-sexualized images", and were also sold the idea they had to look "hot" and "sexy".

"As such, they are facing pressures that children in the past simply did not have to face," the report said.

"While sexualized images have featured in advertising and communications since mass media first emerged, what we are seeing now is an unprecedented rise in both the volume and the extent to which these images are impinging on everyday life."

This impacted on young people's "mental and physical health, attitudes and beliefs" and led some children to suffering poor self-esteem and eating disorders, it said.

The report, which forms part of the government's strategy to tackle violence against women, comes a week after the opposition Conservatives said they would take action against companies guilty of sexualizing children.

Conservative leader David Cameron said his party would bring in measures to tackle irresponsible marketing practices aimed at children and companies that breached advertising guidelines.   Continued...