Those who watched TV shows and played video games with more profanity were more likely to use such language, the researchers found. But the study's design didn't allow researchers to definitively say whether the exposure directly caused the kids to cuss more. Nor could they specify how much of a difference the exposure may have made in terms of the greater odds that a kid would use profanity.
It's also not clear whether boys or girls were more likely to use foul language, and the study didn't examine when the kids used profanity.
Commenting on the findings, Douglas A. Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University, said the study fills a hole in existing research about children.
It also shows the power of television, he said. "You learn from whatever you look at. Whatever you see you'll learn something about it, even if you don't know it."
That works for educational programming, he said, and for other types of viewing, too, such as shows with profanity. "Part of what you learn is what's appropriate," Gentile added.
The study is published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Learn about child development from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Sarah M. Coyne, Ph.D., assistant professor, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; November 2011, Pediatrics
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