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Children travelling in cars are being confronted by roadside billboards and posters on buses, with scary characters from movies such as IT: Chapter two , Halloween and the Annabelle series plastered over them. At home, when watching TV, they are ambushed by frightening movie trailers appearing without warning, and likewise on occasions in cinemas.
Current research shows that it only takes a very quick exposure to a weird or scary image for a child to be haunted by it.
One parent has emailed us about promotions for Annabelle Comes Home (M) saying she has spent more than $1000 on psychologist visits for her 10-year-old daughter after seeing adverts for the movie.
"My daughter ...has been so distressed by this image, despite having seen it only a few times – on a billboard and on our home computer when we were on a cinema chain’s website. Her distress was so great we have had to seek the help of a psychologist. Interestingly, the psychologist told us that she has had a number of children mention this ad and been upset by it.
My daughter had no previous issue with anxiety, but this ad brought her completely unstuck.
ACCM wants to change the Australian Association of National Advertisers' Code of Ethics to prevent ads likely to distress or frighten children being displayed or shown in spaces where children have every right to be. .