David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has said that protecting children from inappropriate sexual and consumer images and content is his personal priority.
Reg Bailey, of the Mothers Union, said that parents were right to be concerned by what he called “stealth advertising” on social networks such as Facebook.
“Parents are much more concerned about the whole virtual world than they are about broadcasting. I think they don’t expect that their children’s details are going to be picked up and the way advertisers are monetising that data to try to sell at children is really quite concerning,” he said.
In a review last year Mr Bailey called on businesses to help shield children from the “increasingly sexualised wallpaper surrounding them”. He said that it was becoming clear that “ultimately the Government will go for legislation if we don’t get this sorted out.”
Mr Bailey added that media attention meant more parents were concerned about the sexualisation of children now than they were last year. He argued, however, that new industry codes of practice had resolved many of the original issues, and that a number of advertising campaigns planned for Christmas were withdrawn as a result.
The survey, by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, also revealed that most parents are unaware of regulators’ main work to combat the problem and that 86 per cent of parents reported concerns about marketing to their children.