Study tries to tie profanity use on TV and by teens


A study from Brigham Young University believes that youths who see people on television using profanity and engaging in aggressive behavior are more likely to do the same. However, it was also noted that there is no way to positively link profanity and aggressive behavior, and the effect is “moderate.”

The study found links between fans of violent programming and aggressive behavior among that fan base, but the authors of the study admitted that this result may be because aggressive individuals seek out such programming; not that such programming creates aggressive individuals.

While the study showed that those who watch television programming or movies, or play video games that feature profanity are likely to use profanity, it was impossible to determine whether the profanity was used passively or aggressively. The results were further muddied because they were based on self-reported behavior, which can be notoriously unreliable.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is yet another soft study in an area that seemingly defies any attempt to prove a hard link. However, we strongly suspect that the hardest link there is to the use of profanity by children is the use of profanity by their own parents. But that apparently isn’t as much fun as trying to pin the blame on the media.

To delve into this a bit further, we would like to report that we have some friends who would not hurt a fly but who happen to casually use profane language. We have also known people who could issue aggressive, devastating and hurtful statements with language that at face value was as clean as a whistle.

We are very aware of the power of language, particularly since it is a tool with which we make our living here at RBR-TVBR. And we understand why some people find some forms of language disturbing and wish to find ways to rein it in.

That is why the First Amendment is so important – the free and unfettered use of language is a right that cannot be voted upon. We understand some limitations on the use of language, but the imposition of such limitations must clear a very high hurdle. And soft studies like this don’t really contribute all that much to the conversation.

However, we support the right BYU to enter its remarks into the conversation, even though it requires us to make this rebuttal!