THE professional body for Australia’s psychiatrists says the self-regulation of advertising and other media industries has failed to protect children from an onslaught of sexualised content.
Today’s generation of kids faced the “widespread use of sexual images to sell anything from margarine to fashion”, Professor Newman, the president of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, said.
She said risque images were now an “inescapable” part of a child’s environment and pointed to billboard and TV advertising, magazines and music videos and even the posters in department stores.
Prof Newman is calling for a new regime of restrictions to protect children from both targeted and inadvertent exposure to sexualised media content.
She said more Australian research was needed to gauge its effect, though the anecdotal evidence was troubling.
The exposure appeared to push typically teenage and adult concerns about body image, “sexiness” and of being a “worthwhile individual” well into a child’s first years of life.
“I’ve seen four-year-olds and pre-schoolers who want to diet … going on intermittent food refusal,” she said.
Introducing sexualised themes to children could be overt, Prof Newman said, such as the move by a British retailer to sell a child’s pole dancing kit or “tween” magazines that offer advice to girls on how to be more attractive to the opposite sex.
But in many cases it was inadvertent.
“If you go into a 7-Eleven, at child’s eye-view will be Ralph magazine next to cartoons,” she said.
“The child might be attracted to the cartoons but what they are bombarded with are all these really quite unusual women with breast implants.
“It is sending a message that this is sexual attraction, this is what gets you on the front of a magazine.”
Prof Newman said it was natural for children to be inquisitive about bodies, and eventually about sex, though these matters should be discussed within a family at a developmentally appropriate time.
“They don’t need to know about adult sexual themes, and that’s the concern,” she said.
Prof Newman will speak on the issue at the Australian Conference on Children and the Media, in Sydney on Friday.
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April 21, 2010 Posted by peterhbrown | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Eating Disorder, Girls, Identity, Parenting, research, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology, Spirituality | adolescent, Advertising, Australia, Body image, child, exposure, Identity, Music video, parenting.tweenage, Professor Newman, pubety, sex, sexual imagery, sexuality, teen, Television advertisement | Leave a Comment
Peter Brown BHMS (Hons) MPsychClin MAPS
I’m a Clinical Psychologist and have a private practice and consultancy in Brisbane Australia. I have 20 years experience in child, adult and family psychology. I have a wonderful wife and three kids.
I am co-founder of Christian Wholeness Counselling Services.
I like researching issues of the brain & mind, reading and seeking out new books and resources for myself and my clients. I thought that others might be interested in some of what I have found also, hence this blog…
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