A new study has found that modern-day teen flicks contain about 50 per cent less swear words and profanities than flicks that parents would have watched when they wwre teens, about 25 years ago.
Three BYU communications professors made the unexpected discovery after studying profanity in G, PG and PG-13 rated teen-targeted movies from the past three decades.
In the study, authors Mark Callister, Dale Cressman and Tom Robinson have explained exactly how profanity in top grossing teen movies has cleaned up.
"We were quite surprised at the findings. When you consider that profanity is increasing on television, especially during the 9-10 p.m. hour, and in music lyrics, you often expect to find similar trends in other media," said Callister.
While the 1980s movies averaged 35 instances of profanity per film, the figure dropped to 25 profanities per flick in the 1990s and again dropped to 16 instances a show in the 2000s.
The researchers did a content analysis on the top 30 grossing teen movies from each decade and only looked at G, PG and PG-13 rated movies that featured teen characters or had plots that revolved around teenagers.
Some of the top movies included 1980s hits 'Back to the Future', 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' and 'Karate Kid'; 1990s flicks 'Casper', 'She's All That' and 'Clueless' and 2000s movies 'Spider Man', 'Harry Potter' and 'Remember the Titans'.
The researchers observed that the trend over the last three decades shows a decrease in usage across nearly all profanity types, including sexual profanity, strong profanity and mild profanity.
They also found the trend both within ratings groups and across ratings types.
However, the Callister has claimed that they don't know the reason for the decrease, saying: "Any explanation would be merely conjecture."
However, they have suggested the possibility that media watchdogs, parents and other groups may be successfully pressuring filmmakers to tone it down for this demographic.
"Their efforts may have had an influence on movie producers, who seem to have responded with fewer instances of swearing in movies produced for younger audiences. Movies intended for younger audiences may be exceptionally sensitive to such pressure," said Callister.
The study has been published in Journal of Children and Media.