Materialism leaves UK’s children ‘trapped’

By staff

British children are trapped in the UK's materialistic culture, a report from Unicef has found.

Its comparison of the experiences of 250 children in Britain, Sweden and Spain found that parents were trying to make up for not spending much time together as a family, because of long working hours, by spending money on technology and clothes.

Children in all three countries cared more about having a stable family and being able to do fun activities, especially outdoors.

"Right now politicians are grappling with the aftermath of the riots and what they say about our society, culture and families," Unicef UK executive director David Bull said.

"The research findings provide important insights, and it is vital that those in power listen to what children and their families are saying about life in the UK."

Reg Bailey, who led the review of the commercialisation of children earlier this year, said the government needed to take in the report's findings if it is "serious about creating a more family-friendly society".

The report recommended encouraging businesses to pay a living wage, protecting funding for children's play facilities and free leisure activities and banning advertisements around TV programmes aimed at under-12s.

A "proper" ban on advertising to children is being considered by ministers, according to a leaked policy document seen by the Guardian newspaper.

"We know strong, stable families are the bedrock of a successful society. We want to make sure all families have the help and support they need," children's minister Sarah Teather said.

"That's why we are consulting on plans to help parents better balance work and family life through more flexible and generous parental leave and flexible working. We are also looking at ways to give families better access to advice and support on parenting."