Report raises concerns about impact of modern life on children

 Children today are more anxious than ever before, according to a report issued by the Church of England Children's Society.

A Good Childhood is the conclusion of a three-year survey carried out by 11 experts which had contributions from 30,000 children and adults.

Issues highlighted in the wide-ranging report include the impact of family breakdown and a new youth culture, which has led to advertisers increasingly targeting children through television and the Internet.

According to the report, children spend 21 hours a week in front of television, video games or the Internet.

It blames advertisers for targeting children with junk food, and claims that the more a child is exposed to television and the internet the more materialistic they become, with consequences for their mental health.

Among a number of recommendations for improving childhood, the report calls on the Government to raise the pay and status of childcare workers and teachers.

It also calls for free parenting classes for new parents and psychological help for families when relationships break down and for children who have emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Children's Society chief executive Bob Reitemeier said: "As a society we are overly interested in self-promotion. The flip side is children growing up in a society where we are not as concerned about helping others. There is a lack of collective responsibility."

The report says children with step-parents or single parents are on average 50 per cent more likely to have problems at school and with self-esteem, behaviour and anxiety. However, Mr Reitemeier stressed that the book "is in no way a condemnation of a particular family structure'"

He said parents needed to be more aware of the impact that conflict between them has on their children and "pro-active in helping children develop friendships," which children highlighted as particularly important to them.

A Good Childhood: searching for values in a competitive age was published by Penguin yesterday at £9.99. It is available through the ICN Shop.

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