TV swearing is bad influence on young people, survey finds

A new survey commissioned by the Daily Mail has found that most people believe swearing on television is behind an increase in swearing by young people.

The poll of more than 800 adults by Ipsos MORI found that a majority of people believe swearing on television is worse now than a decade ago, with women and people over the age of 55 more concerned by levels of bad language on television than others.

A quarter of those polled said they had been personally offended by bad language on television in the last 12 months. Some of the celebrities named in the research were foul-mouthed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and TV presenters Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton.

Of those surveyed, 79 per cent felt that there was more swearing on TV now than 10 years ago. More than three quarters – 76 per cent – said swearing on TV was a bad influence on young people, while 68 per cent felt that bad language on TV had “led directly” to young people using more bad language.

Twenty-five per cent said they had been personally offended by incidents of swearing on TV in the last year, a figure that rose to 32 per cent among women, and 45 per cent among the over-55s.

Forty-eight per cent said they felt swearing on TV before the watershed was a problem, a figure which rose to 54 per cent among women and 59 per cent among the over-55s.

The findings contradict a report into bad language on TV released this week by media regulator Ofcom. The findings of Ofcom’s report, entitled Audience Attitudes Towards Offensive Language on Television and Radio, have been called into question as they were based on the views of just 129 people.

The report claimed that many people find swearing before the 9pm watershed to be acceptable and that the use of “Jesus Christ” as a swearword on television was acceptable “because it is frequently used in everyday life and not usually used in a context which is likely to offend people”.

The report concluded that strong language was still deemed unacceptable by the majority of TV viewers.

According to the Christian Institute, Vivienne Pattison, chair of radio and television watchdog Mediawatch UK, rejected Ofcom’s findings.

She said: “It just doesn’t ring true. I find it really surprising because in all the conversations I have the general view is that swearing is not acceptable pre-watershed at all.

“Also it is not acceptable in society per se, one can’t go into a shop and say things like that. That’s why it is does seem bizarre that people would think it would be okay on television. I have been totally bamboozled by the science behind the survey.”