Advertising is not only of second nature to a technologically advanced society, but it is often overlooked, dismissed or even becomes unnoticed in a pool full of TV commercials, billboards and print ads. However, when it comes to advertising towards children, or even more bizarre, the sexualisation of children in forms of advertising, it surprisingly raises very serious political and social issues for a advertising-overloaded society.
In terms of advertising regulation, Australia has adopted a co-regulatory system with a variety of bodies regulating advertising. There are specific regulations under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 that denote standards for advertising to children (Roberston & Butler 2013, p. 1)
The most controversial issue regarding children and advertising, however, is the sexualisation of children in the media. The sexualisation of children in the media, whether it be in GKFW (Global Kids Fashion Week), or magazine advertisements of young children wearing ‘adult-like’ clothing as seen below.
These social concerns are, I believe, a result of moral panics. According to Fine, there is no hard-hitting research to justify that this ‘sexualisation’ of children causes any harm to children, whether it be physical or psychological (2013). This moral panic has come about by simply looking at these images through the term ‘sexualisation’, or even more grotesque, ‘through the eyes of a paedophile’. If you were to have no negative connotations to the word, looking at these images would simply portray children in nice clothes, or putting on lipstick.
Regulations regarding children and the media have been heavily enforced as a result of this moral panic. Therefore, putting unnecessary pressure and appearance to this ‘issue’. If we we to abandon this issue of sexualising children, these images would literally have no causal affect on the people viewing them, as they clearly have no affect on the children.
Fine, D 2013 Before we keep panicking about child sexualisation. Read this, Mamamia, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.mamamia.com.au/parenting/sexualisation-of-kids/>.
Robertson, I & Butler, S 2013, Australian approach to advertising to children receives approval, Holding Redlich, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.holdingredlich.com/assets/docs/australian%20approach%20to%20adv%2027%20feb%202013.pdf>.