London, Feb 27: Children obsessed with fashionable clothes and technological gadgets could be at higher risk of mental health problems, psychologists warn. Kids feel under pressure to have the latest in everything from toys to trainers and are left anxious and depressed if they are unable to keep up with trends, the report found.
The findings from the Children's Society's inquiry into the state of childhood said children need good adult role models, 'not stick-thin fashion models, drug-addled rock stars or obscenely rich footballers'.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, patron of the inquiry, Dr Rowan Williams said, ''Children should be encouraged to value themselves for who they are as people rather than what they own,'' he added. Children are teased for 'being different' and feel under pressure to be fashionable, the inquiry found. A ten year old girl said, ''A lot of the time I feel I have to follow the trends and if I don't, people just laugh at me!'' Many parents expressed concerns about the commercialisation of childhood to the inquiry. Of more than 1,200 adults surveyed, 89 per cent said they believed children were more materialistic than those of past generations.
90 per cent of surveyers claimed advertising aimed at children over Christmas put pressure on parents to spend more than they could afford. Professor Philip Graham, emeritus professor of child psychiatry at the Institute of Health, London, believe commercial pressures have worrying psychological effects on children.
''It could be that the most anxious, miserable children are trying to buy things to comfort themselves or it could be that actually wanting things you can't have is frustrating and depressing. Either way, that's not very good,'' he said.
''I would say it's probable that some depression and anxiety youngsters have is because of the frustration that's engendered by all the advertising, the commercial pressures that are directed towards children,'' The Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
''When they are younger, parents should limit the amount of TV, DVDs and exposure to the internet and advertising that children have,'' Prof Graham advised.