Modern childhood 'ends at age of 12'

 
Soft toys Childhood ends too quickly, says parenting website

Related Stories

Childhood is over for many children by the age of 12, according to members of a parenting website.

Netmums website users are complaining that children are under pressure to grow up too fast.

They say that girls are made to worry about their appearance and boys are pushed into "macho" behaviour at too young an age.

The website's co-founder Siobhan Freegard blamed a "toxic combination of marketing, media and peer pressure".

"The pace of modern life is so fast that it is even snatching away the precious years of childhood," she said.

"Children no longer want to be seen as children, even when as parents we know they still are."

"There needs to be a radical rethink in society to revalue childhood and protect it as a precious time - not time to put pressure on children to grow up far too fast," said Ms Freegard.

The website asked for its members' views and received more than a thousand replies.

The most common view - from more than two-thirds of this group - was that childhood was now over by the age of 12.

'Under pressure'

About a third of those replying to this online snapshot believed that childhood ended even sooner, at the age of 10.

Parents voiced concerns that children were being put under pressure to act older than their years.

Girls were made to worry about their appearance and their weight, boys were meant to act tough and both boys and girls were under pressure to take an interest in sex at too young an age.

"Children need time to grow and emotionally mature in order to cope with what life throws at them," says Ms Freegard.

This is the latest example of parental concerns about children growing up in an oversexualised culture.

Claire Perry MP, the prime minister's adviser on childhood, has warned about children accessing inappropriate material on websites or through mobile phones.

Another MP, Diane Abbott, attacked what she called the "pornification" of youth culture, in which young people were growing up in an environment of sexual bullying and explicit sexual images.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 383.

    Is 12 really that early? If you think about, it in other countries that is the time girls get married off and start having their own families. I am pretty sure the kids in our western culture generally have a great, careless childhood.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 382.

    When I was 12 I was guiding Miner Willy through caverns to collect things. These days 12 year olds are taking part in modern warfare.

    The glorification of violence and increased sexualisation of everything is largely to blame I think.

  • Comment number 381.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 380.

    366.
    Mums seem to be getting a lot of stick here. Don't children have two parents?

    Indeed they do but nothing as sexist as netdads would ever be allowed to exist

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 379.

    Such a shame. Innocence lost because our world doesn't allow time to stand still anymore. I mourn for my seven year old daughter who will grow old before her time and thus rob us of so many more happier moments in what should have been a halycon age!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 378.

    My childhood stopped (abruptly) at 12, so I don't think the age has changed, but I would agree that the "toxic combination" is more rampant than before.

    Like any pollution, the major problem is the source of the toxins, which is 24/7 Big Business Behaviour

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 377.

    Today's children don't have time to be kids because a) it's too dangerous to play outside and/or unsupervised, and b) there is no longer a guaranteed job or trade for even a hard-working youngster to follow into after school. The teen suicide rate is at an all-time high, and I'm not surprised. Top of the blame list is mass immigration and Religious tension in towns and cities.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 376.

    Childhood may end at 12 but it starts again at 21 when they come home from University....

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 375.

    While I agree that marketing & advertising have played their part, what happened to a parent actually saying "No" to a child when pestered for something. If parents explained to their children as they were growing up why they were not allowed to have or do certain things & to respect authority, I am sure there would not be as many problems around as these Netmums make out.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 374.

    What does Mums Net mean by boys being too "Macho"? Should we stop our kids playing rugby and get them to play football instead? once over 12 yrs old I became a teenager, I still played and enjoyed myself. I think the real problem is the mass marketing at children and teenagers. To be "cool" you must have X Y or Z.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 373.

    12 is a perfectly acceptable age to move in to adolescence. Too many adults in this country lack social and moral responsibility - never mind encouraging children to be children for even longer.

    With the change in age demographics we'll soon need kids to be mopping up after us practically as soon as they're out of the womb anyway!

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 372.

    Modern childhood 'ends at age of 12'....

    ...I am

    * 46 years old
    * married
    * a father
    * a professional
    * an engineer

    ...but I still love Tom and Jerry. Who wants to grow up? ;-)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 371.

    12 year olds are more childish than they've ever been in many respects, mollycoddled by parents trying to keep them young, social media has encouraged them to 'grow up' in ways that parents don't like but overall childhood certainly isn't over at 12, I'm 18 and realistically will be treated like a child until I'm in my early 20's

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 370.

    Also, who decides the definition of childhood, NetMums? I really don't think people sitting on a computer thinking they know everything about parenthood just because they have children.

    Raising a few children doesn't make you an expert on them, it just makes you the best thing you can be in the world....a Mam or Dad!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 369.

    OK. You make your bed and you have to lie in it.
    People are concerned about children growing up too fast, yet they buy a £300+ smartphone for their little darlings when they are about 6 and along with it allow them unsupervised access to the internet, and all its vices, plus the extended social contact of being able to send and receive messages to/from all and sundry at all hours.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 368.

    The older generation will remember living in fear of the harsh consequences of punishment when disobeying their elders. That has now gone and it is something we have to begrudgingly accept. We now have to look at new techniques to help raise the youth of tomorrow, childhood ends differently for different children, it is the influence of those around them that shape their attitude and behaviour.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 367.

    They say the first 40 years of childhood are the hardest! At 39 I feel more like a child than ever.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 366.

    Mums seem to be getting a lot of stick here. Don't children have two parents?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 365.

    How very sad, in general I blame the parents letting children idolise so called spoilt overpaid 'celebs'. What dreadful role models most of them are.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 364.

    43.JohnSmith- An unnecessary bit of teacher bashing there. Teachers do not decide that children should opt at 13 to do certain GCSE's. They have no choice, it is a national strategy decided by government- most would agree that some children are ready and some are not.

 

Page 12 of 31

 

More Education & Family stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.