Media and the Sexualization of Childhood  book cover
1st Edition

Media and the Sexualization of Childhood

ISBN 9781138025448
Published April 25, 2014 by Routledge
230 Pages

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Book Description

Media and the Sexualization of Childhood examines the on-going debates surrounding the prominence of sexual themes in children’s lives, from clothes and accessories, toys and games, to music, entertainment media, advertising, and new media platforms.

Parents, educators and politicians around the developed world have raised concerns about the effects all these experiences can have on the socialisation and psychological development of children and the extent to which the premature introduction of sexuality into their lives can place them at risk of unwanted attention. This book explores these issues using an evidence based approach that draws on research findings from around the world, representing the most comprehensive single account of the field.

The book will be invaluable to students studying topics surrounding children and the media and childhood studies, as well as students of communication, media, cultural studies, sociology, psychology and health science.

Table of Contents

Preface  1. Is Childhood being Sexualized?  2. Fashion and Sexualization  3. Children’s Products and Sexualization  4. Magazines and Sexualization 5. Television and Sexualization 6. Music and Sexualization 7. Advertising and Sexualization 8. Pornography and Sexualization 9. Digital Media and Sexualization  Bibliography

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Barrie Gunter is Professor of Mass Communication, Department of Media and Communication, University of Leicester. His research interests are in the psychological effects of the mass media, particularly in areas such as violent and sexual behaviour, health and consumerism. His most recent books include the co-authored Alcohol Advertising and Young People’s Drinking and the forthcoming Celebrity Capital: Assessing the Value of Fame.


"The topic of Media and the Sexualization of Childhood cries out for a measured, objective review of both the issues and the evidence in this emotive debate. In this thorough discussion of the ways in which different media – fashion, magazines, television, music, advertising, social media – offer sexual information – it is argued, prematurely - to children, Barrie Gunter provides such a review. With its hundreds of references, the book draws on specific evidence to set out both the nature of the problem, and the possible ways in which it can be addressed." - Máire Messenger Davies, Professor of Media Studies, University of Ulster

"Drawing together insights from a diverse range of scholarly research on the hot-button subject of childhood sexualization, Barrie Gunter provides a nuanced and comprehensive analysis of this field of study. His clear-eyed assessment of the complexities around the issue, including the problem of regulation, will advance our understanding of this vital topic and move the debates forward." - Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Professor, University of Iowa, and author of The Lolita Effect

"Taking a broad approach, Gunter (Univ. of Leicester, UK) examines the sexual themes present in media contexts that involve and affect children...the author comprehensively explores these issues, compiling and organizing existing research into an easy-to-use manual of sorts.  In a particularly compelling chapter titled “Fashion and Sexualization,” Gunter discusses the “Honey Boo Boo” phenomenon and the preteen beauty industry.  Likewise, the chapter “Digital Social Media and Sexualization” advances the discussion of this subject to include current trends in media consumption... this book offers a one-of-a-kind examination of media, sexuality, and children...Summing Up: Recommended." - K.L. Majocha, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, in CHOICE

"[T]he book succeeds at being a comprehensive recap of past research regarding sexualization and self-objectification, without the sensationalizing qualities that some other books on the topic have been critiqued for...The book does fill an empty niche in the literature as an almost completely objective look at sexualization, with an impressive reference list and comprehensive summary of current literature, making it a nice overview for students or new researchers to the topic" -  Christine Starr, University of California, in Sex Roles