Tor Constantino shares research that directly links excessive media cursing with aggression in kids.
Growing up, we’ve all heard the rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
However, according to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) it seems that words—particularly swearing and cursing—do have a negative affect on the health and well being of children.
The AAP presented findings at its annual meeting that preteens and kids exposed to profanity in television and video games are more likely to use profanity themselves, which has a direct casual relationship to increased physical and relational aggression, according to the study that was also published in the medical journal Pediatrics.
In report titled Profanity in the Media Associated with Attitudes and Behavior Regarding Profanity Use and Aggression, 223 middle school students completed surveys on their aggression, preferred media, time spent viewing media, perceived aggression in their favorite shows and games, beliefs about profanity and profanity use.
The study results found a direct link in the viewing of media with high profanity, profanity use, and subsequent aggression. According to the study authors, the findings provide continued support for ratings and content warnings surrounding profanity use in the various media—whether it was video games, music, television or movies.
This is not merely a correlation—excessive exposure to swearing in the media actually makes kids more aggressive.
Obviously our kids are increasingly exposed to coarse messaging on the school bus, in the classroom, at the playground and via social media—those areas are beyond the influence of most parents. However, this research suggests that parents and guardians of children can help reduce aggressive behavior by limiting repeated exposure to cursing-saturated media.
While a typical adult might think excessive swearing in the media is no big deal—an accelerated insensitivity foisted on kids as a result might be.
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