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Children Who Hear Swear Words on TV Are More Aggressive
By Alice Park Oct. 17, 2011

Jim Doberman
When children are exposed to violence on TV and in video games, studies show they tend to become more aggressive themselves. But a new study reveals that even just exposure to swear words in media may lead children to become more physically aggressive as well.
In a study involving 223 middle-schoolers in Missouri, researchers at Brigham Young University asked the students about their exposure to profanity in the media — in particular on television and in video games — as well as their attitudes about swear words and their tendencies toward aggressive behavior. The scientists measured both physical aggression (by asking students whether they hit, kicked or punched others) and relational aggression (by asking them whether they gossiped about others to damage their reputations).
Using statistical models, the researchers calculated that exposure to profanity had about the same relationship to aggressive behavior as exposure to violence on TV or in video games. In addition, they found that the more children were exposed to profanity, they more likely they were to use swear words themselves, and those who used profanity were more likely to become aggressive toward others.
“From using profanity to aggressive behavior, it was a pretty strong correlation,” says study leader Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at Brigham Young. “And these are not even the worst [profane] words that kids are exposed to, since there are seven dirty words that you’re not allowed to say on TV. So we’re seeing that even exposure to lower forms of profanity are having an effect on behavior.”
Coyne recognized that it was possible that the relationship went the other way, that children who used profanity might also tend to seek out television programs and games that featured profanity,...

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