People more likely to use strong swear words in everyday life compared to five years ago, research finds

There is a generational divide

Ellie Abraham
Thursday 10 June 2021 15:44
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People are using stronger swear words in everyday life, research from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has suggested.

The research from the body that rates films determined that around a third of people in the UK are more likely to use strong swearing than five years ago.

The BBFC polled 1,000 British adults and compiled results using in-depth interviews and focus groups with the representative sample of people aged 18+ across the UK.

It found that out of 1,000 people, around 60 per cent saw strong swear words, such as f*** and motherf***er, as part of everyday life.

It also found a significant generational divide in the usage of swearing. Eighteen to 34-year-olds were most likely to swear and are more desensitised to its impact.

The BBFC treated common acronyms, such as WTF and FML, as swearing as their meaning is widely known.

Unsurprisingly, the study found that older people considered some swear words taboo. Among the over 65s, 75 per cent said they would not use strong swear words in public.

The research by the film classification body found that, despite the trend of using expletives more in daily life, parents wanted their children to be sheltered from it and did not want age restrictions on films and DVDs to be diluted.

Some parents polled were anxious about swearing becoming “normalised” in the media. For others, the context is important, for example, it is more concerning if it’s used in an aggressive way, particularly if it’s linked to sexual violence.

For BBFC to rate a film 15, there must only be infrequent use of strong swear words. If it is accompanied by violence, the rating might increase to an 18. A 12A film typically has no use of strong language.

David Austin, the BBFC’s chief executive, said: “Children are watching more content on multiple screens, and their parents want to protect them from strong and very strong language wherever they can and for as long as possible.

“Parents told us they are keen for media industries to share the responsibility - and that’s where we come in.”

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