Fiction has always played a significant role in shaping people’s beliefs and values. This is something we innately know--life imitates art, and most parents and adults are aware that what goes into their children's lives, hearts, and minds has a major impact on their children's growth and development, and overall well-being.
This is why the impact of clean fiction on young adults’ moral and ethical development is a topic of significant importance in the world of literature.
Today, I want to talk about how clean fiction can help shape young adults’ moral and ethical beliefs and influence their decision-making processes, and reading well-rounded clean fiction (i.e., fiction that depicts varied characters and situations) is crucial for developing well-rounded perspectives.
(Note: Here on PirateCat, clean fiction refers to books that are free from explicit language, graphic violence, and sexual content.)
So, let's dive in!
How Clean Fiction Can Help Shape Young Adults' Moral and Ethical Beliefs
Young adults are at a critical stage in their moral and ethical development, and fiction can have a significant impact on how they view the world around them.
Through characters and plotlines, stories can provide insight into different perspectives, experiences, and emotions that can help teens expand their understanding of life and provide context for their own future experiences. Also, authors of clean fiction often aim to promote positive values and morals without crossing the line into inappropriate or offensive material.
Because of these factors, clean fiction can provide a safe and positive space for young adults to explore different values and beliefs without exposure to explicit content that may be harmful.
How Clean Fiction Can Influence Young Adults' Decision-Making Processes
One way clean fiction influences young adults' decision-making processes is by providing them with relatable characters and situations. When young adults see characters in a book make ethical or moral choices, it can inspire them to do the same in their own lives. These characters can provide a sense of guidance and perspective that can help young adults navigate difficult situations and make decisions that align with their values. Seeing characters facing tough moral choices helps teens realize that these situations do occur, and encourages them to think through how they would respond in a similar situation, so they are better prepared for facing those situations in real life.
In contrast, exposure to inappropriate content can desensitize young adults to unethical or immoral behavior, leading to poor decision-making and negative consequences. This is one of many reasons why, here at PirateCat, we believe clean, age-appropriate content for teens is so important.
How Reading Well-Rounded Clean Fiction Can Help Teens Develop Well-Rounded Moral and Ethical Perspectives
Given the above discussions, this point seems somewhat self-explanatory: if you want well-rounded output (decisions, actions), you need well-rounded input. Clean fiction can be a big part of how teens can achieve that, particularly clean fiction that intentionally addresses real life issues in a tactful, thoughtful way.
Clean fiction that explores differing cultures, experiences, and situations offers young adults the opportunity to explore these different cultural, religious, and societal norms and values. It can broaden their understanding of the world and promote empathy and understanding for people who may have different experiences and backgrounds. By reading about characters different from themselves (or in situations they've never themselves been in), young adults can develop a broader range of moral and ethical perspectives and become more informed and empathetic members of society.
A Tiny Soapbox Comment About Clean Fiction and Preachiness
It’s important to note that clean fiction does not have to be preachy to have a positive impact on young adults’ moral and ethical development. Instead, it can present difficult, complex situations (and yes, even temptations!) in a realistic way, and allow the situation to play out through the characters' actions and choices... with realistic, thematically appropriate consequences. When characters make poor choices, they should face realistic consequences for doing so--and when they make healthy choices, they should see the benefits. Teens are smart! They can extrapolate the lessons, without being beaten over the head by them. And even better, this gives the teens the chance to draw the conclusions for themselves, rather than feeling like certain moral lessons are being clumsily forced upon them. When teen readers come to their own moral conclusions based on their emotional involvement with the story and characters, there is a much greater likelihood of those principles truly impacting them in a deep, lasting way.
Clean fiction can have a significant impact on young adults’ moral and ethical development. It provides a safe and positive space for young adults to explore different values and beliefs, influences their decision-making processes, and promotes empathy and understanding through exposure to varied perspectives. By reading clean fiction, young adults can develop a well-rounded moral and ethical perspective that will help them navigate the complexities of the world around them.