There's More Cussin' In Teen Novels Than Video Games, Swears Researcher

You might not expect a study coming out of Brigham Young University's School of Family Life to have anything good to say about video games. And maybe this doesn't. But it says something a lot worse about books, and I'll take that as a win in this culture war.

Sarah Coyne, a social sciences researcher at the university (whose past work was mentioned here), found that teen-oriented novels contain twice the rate of cursing of most video games. Moreover, characters who curse are portrayed more admirably -- as wealthier, better looking and more popular.

Coyne's research examined 40 books; 35 of them contained wirdy-dirds, which is 88 per cent, compared to 34 per cent of the video game sample she examined. (Wonder if Mafia II was in there.) The profanity she found equated to about seven instances of filth flarn filth per hour of reading.

"Unlike almost every other type of media, there are no content warnings or any indication if there is extremely high levels of profanity in adolescent novels," said Coyne, who advised parents to talk with their children about the books they are reading.

Teen books: twice as obscene as video games? [Christian Science Monitor via Game Politics.]


    Because if there's one thing we need it's warnings about certain arbitrary sounds that a human is capable of making. The real issue here is why is our culture still stuck in on dark age thinking about the power of wooooorrddsss.

      I'd accept that as a valid point but all I hear are arbitrary sounds (or in this case, all I see are arbitrary glyphs). It is through the meaning we attribute them that we understand the intent and mood of those who make them. Even animals make noises with specific meanings to convey their intentions so they can communicate with others of their species. Sometimes the same arbitrary sounds and/or glyphs can mean something entirely different (and possibly offensive) in another's vocabulary.

    Wonder if mother-fucker House of the dead overkill or I'm getting fucked in the arse over here Battlefield 3 were in the sample she used.

      Lets not forget Prototype 2.... I'd love to endorse her study but videogames lately really are taking the mother****ing cake mother****er.

    i find it odd that you can read a book about kids killing eachother in gruesome ways at any age, but a movie or game of the same thing would probably be banned (and i know hunger games got a movie, but that was completely neutered, no one died on-screen)

      One dude got show with an arrow on screen.

      Damn that movie was over-rated..

      Yeah - I'm really wondering what will happen with Enders games, where the killing is so central to the character.

    I've personally always thought that books needed a classification system. I was reading a fantasy series in primary school and about halfway through there was a really graphic rape scene. And it was at my school library too.

    I think we need an R18+ rating, but I do think rating things is important, and I see no reason why books shouldn't be classified like games and movies.

      Because books, for the most part, actually do the job of putting things in context, granted there's horrible books, but for the most part any time I've read a rape scene in a book, it's been followed by the impossible to ignore anguish of the victim, the horrible consequences of the despicable act and the mindset of the perpetrator (clearly unwell or a flat out 'bad guy'). Practically no one with half a brain actually argues children shouldn't be exposed to things like violence, period. Rather that these things need to be given context, and that can be a very difficult thing to do, especially when the primary goal of things like call of duty is mowing people down and the only consequence is a little number change, and a respawn timer, and the person doing the killing is actually rewarded. Movies these days aren't much better, flat out murder is handled as though anyone can and often should do it to reach their goals. Hence for the most part it's just easier to say 'Scenes in this piece of media need contextualizing or they could be harmful to some minds so here's a sticker to say young people can't watch because naturally most parents around going to do any halfway decent job of that, and many probably aren't even capable.'

      But then I suppose I'm not a fan of the ratings system in general, a good parent would investigate what their child is watching, letting minors watch movies based only on the colour of a sticker on the case is the equivalent of buying a game you no NOTHING about based purely on the review score. At least read the review and have some idea of the genre/plot before exposing young minds to it, better yet, watch it/play it/read it with them.

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