She said the issue of the sexualisation of girls was paid particular attention, with commissioners aware that watching children would copy their role models.
She disclosed she had previously gone onto the set of Friday Download, an hour-long Bafta-winning entertainment show, to insist presenters “take their red lipstick off”.
“Obviously sexualisation of girls is something we take incredibly seriously,” she said. “We try and show fantastic female role models.
“I go onto the floor of Friday Download and make them take their red lipstick off, the presenters.
“The older end of our six to twelve age groups are very interested in relationships, and we have to show positive role models and the correct way of going about having relationships.”
When asked whether the BBC pays attention to what female presenters wear, Hardinge said: “We take that very seriously. We know that a lot of young girls will look at how our presenters are dressed, and no they shouldn’t look too sexy.”
Hardinge told an audience the BBC was conscious of providing good role models for girls, including the former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, who was sent on intrepid expeditions to the South Pole and the Amazon.
The panel, which included Rosie Alison, head of development at Heyday Films, Anne Brogan, managing director of Kindle Entertainment, and Jonathan Smith, strategic director of TT Games, also discussed the issues of swearing and violence.
When asked about BBFC guidelines, which have outlawed the words “c–p” and “a–e” from films for young children, Hardinge said: “The problem is that certain words in some families are fine, and some are not.
“I have sat in editorial forums at the BBC where we have spent 20 minutes talking about whether the word ‘fart’ is acceptable or not.
“It depends on the context and whether you can use a euphemism.
“The portrayal of violence is a very, very sensitive thing. We have very strict editorial guidelines to try and steer the right course.
“For anything that can be easily copied using domestic implement, for example, we have to take our responsibility as a public service broadcaster very seriously and find the lines.”
Eric Huang, development director at digital media company Made in Me, told the audience he recalled seeing Bugs Bunny shooting Elmer Fudd repeatedly in the face as a child, in a “casual portrayal of violence”.
“It was ok then, but not now,” he said. “Some of it is determined by fashion and what we think is ok today.”