Have you ever knocked on your child’s bedroom door to ask her to turn down the music she’s listening to? This likely scenario is one that often occurs in households across the Nation. But did you stop and truly listen to the lyrics of your child’s favorite songs? Some songs carry negative messages that may be related to aggressive thoughts and feelings.
Before you try to tune out the “noise” that your child is listening to, consider whether it needs to be limited or turned off.
Music plays a larger role in a kid’s life than parents might realize. With more than 20 music styles to choose from, young people listen to music—radio, CDs, tapes, and music videos—for 3 to 4 hours per day.
Music often is playing even when kids are watching movies or television, playing video games, or using the Internet.
Music is connected to kids’ emotions and can even help shape their moods. When your child finds a song he really likes, he may listen to it over and over again. Repeating a song for long periods of time can have a strong emotional impact on the listener. For this reason, violent songs can be more influential than other media violence. In fact, researchers found that listening to heavy metal and rap music correlates with hostile attitudes, negative attitudes toward women, lower academic performance, behavioral problems in school, drug use, and arrests.
This negative influence can come from more than the songs alone. When asked to consider their heroes, teens choose musicians more frequently than athletes.
Your child’s favorite singers—whether they are good or poor role models—can have an impact on your child.
Despite the power of music and musicians, it’s important to remember that parents still are the number one influence in teens’ lives.
Extend that influence to your children’s choice of music and:
• Expose children to a broad range of music from an early age. For kids, listening to music from around the world can lead to an adventure of discovery about other countries and cultures.
• Be knowledgeable about the lyrics of your children’s music. Remember, new songs often replace old favorites.
• For younger children, be explicit about your family’s values and what you will and will not allow your child to listen to.
• For older children, keep lines of communication open; ask why they enjoy this music. Set limits on where they can play it and for how long.
• Be aware that listening to rap or heavy metal music is not in itself cause for alarm, but if your child is facing problems with friends, parents, brothers and sisters, or teachers, you might need to seek professional help. Start by talking with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or doctor.
• Encourage use of earplugs at rock concerts and in other places where loud music is played for a long period of time. Explain the effects of loud music on hearing.
• Talk with them about what they are hearing and why some music is not appropriate. Try to limit your child’s contact with music that portrays negative messages.
Being critical of a child’s choice of music can be a tricky issue. Talk with her about her music and help her to see the difference between entertainment and influence. Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child and teaching him to make good decisions can help bring harmony to both your lives.
American Academy of Pediatrics: Some Things You Should Know About Media Violence and Media Literacy
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Mental Health Information Center: Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General (A print version of this study was released in 2001.)
Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit, July 26, 2000: American Academy of Pediatrics