More than half of parents with young children let them watch television shows intended for adults, despite many of the shows featuring highly inappropriate content.
A new survey has revealed that 54 per cent of parents whose children are aged two to four allow their kids to watch shows such as EastEnders, Coronation Street and The X Factor.
Both EastEnders and Coronation Street have run a number of controversial storylines, and last year nearly three thousand people complained after a raunchy performance on The X Factor.
Literacy expert Sue Palmer warned that allowing children to see inappropriate television programmes was equivalent to “leaving a bottle of bleach lying around”.
She said: “Parents seem to be under the impression children can cope with the same things as adults but they can’t. It will disturb them.”
The survey was carried out as part of the Hello campaign, The Communication Trust’s drive to improve standards of speech, language and listening.
The Trust has published a ten-point plan for children’s TV viewing, which encourages parents to make sure TV shows watched by their children are age-appropriate, and, if possible, to watch with them.
Last year a survey revealed that two thirds of parents in the UK believed children were exposed to unsuitable content on television before the watershed.
The online survey, conducted by the Mothers’ Union, of 1,004 parents of children under the age of 18, found that 67 per cent thought inappropriate content was broadcast before 9pm.
A further 80 per cent said they felt films and video games with violent or sexual themes could be accessed too easily by children.
And in 2009 researchers observed that children who viewed TV programmes aimed at adults were more likely to engage in sexual activity earlier in life.