Our vision is to see a media that works for children and families

At Mediawatch UK we recognise that media is a huge part of everyday life – including that of our children’s. Whether it’s streaming content on a mobile device, interacting on social media, playing video games, watching TV and everything in between: media is EVERYWHERE!

Latest figures from Ofcom reveal that a fifth (21%) of 3-4 year olds now have their own tablet, and over 80% of 12-15 year olds own a smartphone, the device they would also miss the most.


On average each week a 5-15 year old will spend:






Media is brilliant… but has its challenges


Don’t get us wrong - media is brilliant! It helps us stay informed, get connected, entertains and challenges. It stimulates creativity, produces endless fun and is the setting for many happy family memories.

Yet it’s also incredibly powerful: inundating us 24-7 with images, information and ideas, shaping the way we think and behave, and providing spaces to connect with people we know and those we don’t.

The media and digital age offers us amazing opportunities, but at the same time brings risks and challenges, not least for kids and teenagers

‘In 2017/18, more than 3,000 Childline counselling sessions were about bullying online and online safety’

NSPCC, How safe are our children? (2018)

‘Among reviews by young people of the most popular social networks, apps and games, 15.9% reported seeing sexual content’

NSPCC, How safe are our children? (2018)

‘Parents sometimes gave children contradictory safety messages when they let children use their social media accounts, and unknowingly exposed them to unsuitable content.’

Children’s Commissioner, Life in ‘likes’: a report into social media use among 8-12 year olds (2018)

‘Concerns about television content have increased since 2016 among parents of 3-4s (22% vs. 14%) and 5-15s (31% vs. 25%)’

Ofcom, Children and Parents: media use and attitudes report (2017)

We want to see this change.



We believe it takes EVERYONE to create a safer media

We want to help families make safer media choices. Educating and equipping children and their parents/carers is key to keeping media experiences positive, fun and rewarding.

Yet a safer media also requires government and industry to play their part in ensuring children are protected.

We think that when media and technology industries put child well-being at the heart of their products and services, it helps create a better society for everyone.

Our mission is:


To be an effective voice for, and support to, children and families when it comes to achieving a safer media


To educate and equip families to make safer, positive media choices and raise awareness of inappropriate, risky and potentially harmful media


To encourage and influence society to value the importance and benefits of a safer media for everyone

For more information on our values head to MEDIAWATCH UK TODAY section



President of The National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (forerunner of Mediawatch UK), Mary Whitehouse CBE


The story of Mediawatch UK began over 50 years ago. School teacher and mother of three, Mary Whitehouse, decided to act after seeing first-hand the negative impact that certain TV programmes were having on the values and attitudes of her pupils. A mass meeting was organised in May 1964, with a capacity crowd flocking to Birmingham Town Hall to show their support for her campaign to Clean up TV. The following day, a petition containing 120,000 signatures was sent to the Queen and Prince Philip.  In time, the momentum generated by the campaign led to the creation of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, an organisation seeking to represent the voice and vision of the people for broadcasting content, whilst calling for broadcasters to use the media to enhance society and help address the social and moral issues it faced.

In 1988, after years of dedicated campaigning by Mrs Whitehouse and NVALA, the Broadcasting Standards Council, was established; a body which would monitor standards of ‘taste and decency’. Today the responsibility for upholding standards in broadcasting is placed with OFCOM, the UK’s communications regulator.

Other notable successes by NVALA included:

  • Achieving effective legislation to make all child pornography illegal. The Protection of Children Act 1978 today enables police action to be taken against those who take, or allow to be taken, an indecent photograph of a child; and those who possess or use the internet to publish and make available indecent images of children.
  • Furthering the passing of the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981 and the Video Recordings Act 1984 which required all video recordings for sale or hire in the UK to carry an age-rated classification in line with films shown in cinemas.

In 2001 NVALA became Mediawatch UK.




A special collection of papers from the NVALA Archive (1970-1990) are permanently placed at the Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex. The collection contains documents relating to the Clean Up TV campaign and the establishment and early days of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, as well as correspondence and papers relating to books and articles by and about Mary Whitehouse.


For further information, or to request access to the archive, please contact:

Mr Nigel Cochrane

Albert Sloman Library
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
Essex CO4 3UA

Tel: 01206 873172

Mr Nigel Cochrane

Albert Sloman Library
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
Essex CO4 3UA

Tel: 01206 873172



While Mary Whitehouse and her views undoubtedly divided opinion, often making her the object of ridicule, it’s worth remembering that central to her motivation was the protection of children, and a desire to preserve their childhood. Today we remain equally committed to making the media a safer place for children and families. The starting point for our work is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Our Christian faith heritage plays an important part too, inspiring us to uphold human dignity.

It’s the source of our concern for the harmful and negative effects caused, contributed to, or perpetuated by the media, and the inspiration for celebrating its benefits.

Our faith also shapes our values and means:

  • we will be respectful of, and value, the people that we deal with
  • we will seek to be transparent and accountable in the way we run our organisation
  • we will conduct ourselves with integrity and honesty  
  • we will seek to work with others who share our concerns for the fulfilment of our charitable objects



Helen Lewington

Helen was appointed Director of Mediawatch UK in October 2016. As mum to a teenager and tween she is only too aware of the challenges families face in navigating today’s media, and in preparing children and teenagers to make wise media choices. She is passionate about putting the well-being of children at the heart of the media industry.

The Director is accountable to the Board of Trustees.


Our trustees safeguard Mediawatch UK and help set its strategic direction.  The current members are:

Reverend Dave Chesney (Chairman)
Sam Burnett
Ruth Irwin
Tushar Mody
Pauline Webborn

You can make a difference

If you have an enquiry or would like any information, please get in touch.

01233 633936

3 Willow House
Kennington Road
TN24 0NR




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