9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN18 Sociology of Communications and Media Research

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Europeanizing Globalizations II Building AA, AA.325

Protecting childhood in the digital age. The limits of UK state regulation of the global advertising and marketing industries

Recent UK social policy focused on children and young people has emphasised the importance helping them to be active and participating citizens free from exploitation and being safe. In aiming to achieve this, one of the most challenging areas for the UK government has been around the expansion of new media and digital technology such as the internet, multi channelled TV, and on-line gaming. While a major focus of policy has been towards protecting children from risks such as sexual exploitation on the internet there has also been a growing concern about the role advertising and marketing can undermine children and young people?s wellbeing. For example, a recent government enquiry was set up to explore the impact this is having on childhood in contemporary society. As a result, questions are being asked about how effective is the regulation of children and young people?s exposure, in the digital age to commercial messages that emerge from the marketing and advertising industry. In this paper we explore how the present media regulation system works and how it is responding to the challenges it is facing. Historically, regulation emerged out of the need to regulate mainstream television and is built upon a form of self regulation by the industry and its partners. What we suggest in this paper is that the growth of new digital technology and the limited focus and powers of regulation is leaving gaps and creating new opportunities for the marketing and advertising industries to exploit children and young people in their search for access to sell their products. In the final section of the paper we argue for a cross cutting and inclusive form of regulation that crosses international and media boundaries as a way on increasing protection for children and young people in the future digital age.