GAMING BLEND

Child Aggression Linked To Profanity In Video Games, Movies

By William Usher 2011-10-17 15:59:31 discussion comments
You have got to love all these studies about video games saying one thing or another and then having a subsequent study appear a week or two later that completely contradicts it. Sort of like a die-hard moralist priest caught fondling an altar boy, or a video surfacing featuring Jack Thompson making love to a copy of GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony.

Anyways, a new study has surfaced that indicates high levels of teen aggression is linked to profanity on television, in movies and in video games, and that the influence comes from young people thinking that the language is “normal”, even when some words can get you in big trouble when used around the wrong people.

According to an article on Eureka Alert, a new research study was published in the Pediatrics medical journal detailing how the use of language in television and video games can affect young people, creating within them higher levels of tension and aggression.

Scholars at Brigham Young University found that exposure to high amounts of profanity from media and games for teenagers results in accepting the language as normal, which in turn creates physical and “relational” aggression. I guess when kids start slinging racial slurs and F-bombs in front of a group of minorities things could potentially get physically aggressive…at the least.

BYU family life professor and lead author of the Pediatrics study, Sarah Coyne, shed a little light on the issue, saying that…
"On the whole, it's a moderate effect" ... "We even ran the statistical model the opposite way to test if the violent kids used more profanity and then sought it out in the media, but the first path we took was a much better statistical fit even when we tried other explanations."

To further exemplify the study’s point, a media expert at the Ohio State University, Brad Bushman, commented about the research study, saying…
"This research shows that profanity is not harmless," … "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."

It’s common to hear little kids swearing like sailors on Xbox Live, PSN or any other online service or game. I doubt they understand the meaning of the words but they hear them often enough to replicate them. While most people will just see profanity as letters stringed together to form a word, it’s the ideas and meaning behind the words that pose a bit of a problem. It’s no different than saying words like “beautiful” and “ugly” are subjective, but they a play a big role in how people feel about themselves depending on the context in which they are used to describe someone.

Coyne certifies the above point by stating that…
"Profanity is kind of like a stepping stone," ... "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 behavior."

To be honest, I think it’s more than just profanity that leads to the “downward slide” to aggressive tendencies and behavior, but there’s no denying that a lot of factors, including profanity in media and games, can help influence that behavior.

It’s kind funny because John Carmack thinks quite the opposite of this study's findings, and yet the study by the University of Missouri seems to state otherwise. It seems like gamers, media influence and humans in general are a little more complex than a series of numbers, words and statistical data. Go figure.

You can learn more about the Pediatrics article by visiting Eureka Alert.
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