Profanity in visual media spurs teen aggression

October 17th, 2011 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 17 (IANS) Profanity in the visual media is likely to increase aggression levels among teenagers, a new study says.

Researchers examined the impact of profanity in the media, which sounded surprising considering how central language was to movie and TV ratings.

Brigham Young University researchers gathered information from 223 middle schools, the journal Paediatrics reports.

“Profanity is kind of a stepping stone,” said Sarah Coyne, professor of paediatrics at Brigham, who led the study, according to a university statement.

“You don’t go to a movie, hear a bad word, and then go shoot somebody. But when youth both hear and then try profanity out for themselves it can start a downward slide toward more aggressive behaviour.”

Brad Bushman, professor in mass communications and media expert at Ohio State University who was not involved with the study, concured after reviewing the research.

“This research shows that profanity is not harmless,” said Bushman. “Children exposed to profanity in the media think that such language is ‘normal’, which may reduce their inhibitions about using profanity themselves.”

“And children who use profanity are more likely to aggress against others. These are very important findings for parents, teachers and pediatricians.”

The connection between profanity and adolescent aggression remained significant even while accounting for the influence of portrayals of aggression in the shows and games popular with the middle school students involved in the study.

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