Has Ed Balls got it right?

Remote control and TVLabour Cabinet minister Ed Balls has been in the media today (e.g. see the Sunday Telegraph) talking about the possible effects of advertising on children. Some of this talk is oh so terribly New Labour (10 year plans, setting up new reviews, etc) but at heart there’s something to welcome here.

So many parents mention the impact that advertising on TV has on their children – shaping their attitudes, setting their tastes, increasing their demands for material goods. It’s an area we have to address. As I wrote in September, on the subject of the pressures that so many young girls feel over the images of what they “should” be liked hurled at them day after day:

The pressure to become mini-clones and mini-consumers is immense…

The answer is to seek balance – to value forms of status other than simply appearance. So, friends, activities, sport, study – and just being a nice person – kindness, humour, gentleness – need to become valued virtues.

Part of the solution lies with the media – and what a fantastic service it is that the BBC provides with its CBeebies channel, allowing children to enjoy the best of what TV can bring – the fun, the entertainment, the education – without being subjected to a commercial barrage of advertisements. That is public broadcasting at its very best.

So, let’s hope this is one government initiative that brings good news.