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


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    The real problem is the way in which childhood is being lost. Children are not generally asked to take on responsibilities as in the past, instead they are indoctrinated into the shallow brands, celebrity and appearance led culture we are drowning in. It's all about profits and profile and we are all suffering because of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    More nonsense from net mums founder. This speaks more about her desire to keep her children 'children' long after their natural transition into adolescence. 'Kids' 100 years ago were given responsibility to work and kids around the world mature faster than our own without problems. I suggest we'd have more problems if we forced people to be children long after they ceased to be children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Biologically I can't disagree, childhood does end about 12 or 13 but it is not followed by adulthood: it's followed by adolescence. It's time for childhood and adolescence to be recognise legally as separate states, both juvenile but with different rights and responsibilities. It's silly when 17 year olds are referred to legally or by the media as "children" when they are blatantly not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I am so glad I grew up in an age with no phones, no facebook etc. All I needed was a ball and a tree and I was away. And I grew up in the 1990s! How times have changed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Yes, sure. My grandfather was holding down a full time job at 14, working on building sites and helping to support his family. Both of his brothers were killed on the same day at Cambrai in 1917 aged 17 and 18.
    Gee - it's just so tough these days...


Comments 5 of 603


More Education & Family stories



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.