A report by the UN children’s agency, Unicef, claims that parents spend money on expensive gifts for their children rather than spending time with them.
The Unicef study explored children’s attitudes and ideas of happiness and success from Britain, Sweden and Spain. It highlighted that the consumer culture was less embedded in Sweden and Spain, both of which rank higher than Britain for the wellbeing of children.
Children reportedly said that what makes them happy is spending time with their family. However, parents still felt under pressure to shower their children with toys and designer labels to compensate for working long hours.
Unicef credited the UK’s “compulsive consumerism” and materialistic culture as a contributing factor to the unrest that resulted in the wide spread looting and riots that the country saw last month.
“While children would prefer time with their parents to heaps of consumer goods, [their] parents seem to find themselves under tremendous pressure to purchase a surfeit of material goods for their children,” Dr Agnes Nairn, an academic and marketing expert, explained.
Unicef’s UK director David Bull called for the ban of advertising aimed at children under the age of 12 and for a push towards enabling parents to spend more time at home. “The government needs to make sure parents earn enough to spend fewer hours in work and more time with their children,” he said.
This report comes, however, at a time when many aspects of parenting in Britain are being questioned.
Reports have found that working mums have to send their sick children to school as they feel unable to take a day off work due to pay and fears of job security.
In addition, rising childcare costs are said to be putting such a strain on parents that, for some, the only solution is to stop work to look after their children.
There clearly needs to be changes in many aspects of everyday life so that Britain’s parents are supported and are able to care for children in the best way possible.
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