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“There’s a third-person effect where people say, ‘I’m sure media affects kids, but not mine,’ ” Ms. Coyne said. “A lot of parents say not to use profanity, but then they let it slip in through various types of media. It’s all about your values system.”

But those family values don’t mean anything without a plan for instilling them in a child in an effective way, Mr. Jay said.

“If you’re going to be a parent, you need to have a plan about how you’re going to talk about this with your kids,” Mr. Jay said. “Be cool. Teaching your kids your values is your job, not the TV’s job. Remember: It’s just a word.”