Pressure to achieve academically is robbing young children of their belief in the tooth fairy, research for the TV channel Cartoon Network claims.
Parents polled said they had believed in fairies, elves and goblins until about the age of 10, but today's children lost these illusions at just six.
Two-thirds of the 4,000 parents of pre-teenage children interviewed admitted pushing their children to read books aimed at older pupils to help them compete at school.
Cecilia Persson, Cartoon Network's vice-president of programming, said:
"Although sustaining a fantasy world of goblins, elves and cartoon heroes may not seem worthwhile to some more serious-minded parents, it has a surprisingly significant impact on a child's development."