Music is most definitely seen as the universal language because everyone can relate to it. The description of what music is differs from person to person because each person experiences things in a different manner to what the next person would. But the current sounds on the music scene which is making waves have become so different to what it initially was decades ago. People use to create music which was referred to as “soul music”. Nowadays we are faced with music which promotes sex, drugs, gangs, violence and this makes it ok for teenagers to accept these things.
Music plays an important role in the socialization of children and adolescents. Popular music is present almost everywhere, and it is easily available through the radio, various recordings, the Internet, and new technologies, allowing adolescents to hear it in diverse settings and situations, alone or shared with friends. Parents often are unaware of the lyrics to which their children are listening because of the increasing use of downloaded music and headphones. Research on popular music has explored its effects on schoolwork, social interactions, mood and affect, and particularly behavior. The effect that popular music has on children’s and adolescents’ behavior and emotions is of paramount concern.
As with popular music, the perception and the effect of music-video messages are important, because research has reported that exposure to violence, sexual messages, sexual stereotypes, and use of substances of abuse in music videos might produce significant changes in behaviors and attitudes of young viewers.
Female adolescents are more likely than male adolescents to use music to reflect their emotional state, in particular when feeling lonely or “down.” Male adolescents, on the other hand, are more likely to use music as a stimulant, as a way to “boost” their energy level, or to create a more positive image of themselves.
Research on popular music has explored several areas such as its effects on schoolwork, social interactions, mood and affect, and particularly behavior. Several theories have been developed to explain the relationship between music and behavior, and a number of studies have demonstrated that there is a relationship between music and emotions, regardless of age.
In refuting concerns about the effect of lyrics, some have argued that children and adolescents use music only for entertainment, that little or no attention is paid to the words, and if any attention is given, understanding tends to be limited and related to the experiences lived by the listener.
The American Academy of Pediatrics understands that, given the findings presented and our knowledge of child and adolescent development, pediatricians and parents should be aware of this information. Furthermore, with the evidence portrayed in these studies, it is essential for pediatricians and parents to take a stand regarding this issue. Therefore, the following recommendations are made.
- Pediatricians should become familiar with the role of music in the lives of children and adolescents and identify music preferences of their patients as clues to emotional conflict or problems.
- Pediatricians should become familiar with the literature available on the effects of music and music videos on children and adolescents.
- Pediatricians should explore with patients and their parents what types of music they listen to and music videos they watch and under which circumstances they consume these media.
- Pediatricians should encourage parents to take an active role in monitoring the type of music to which their children and adolescents are exposed and to be aware of the music they purchase. Parents can find lyrics by typing “music lyrics” into an Internet search engine and accessing 1 or more of the Web sites that appear. Pediatricians also should counsel parents and caregivers to monitor and regulate television-viewing according to the age and maturity of their children and adolescents.
- Pediatricians should encourage parents and caregivers to become media literate.
- Pediatricians should sponsor and participate in local and national coalitions to discuss the effects of music on children and adolescents to make the public and parents aware of sexually explicit, drug-oriented, or violent lyrics on CDs and cassettes, in music videos, on the Internet, and in emerging technologies.
- The public and parents in particular, should be aware of and use the music industry’s parental advisory warning of explicit content. The advisory label is a black-and-white logo and should be located on the front of the CD, cassette, album, videocassette, or DVD. It may help protect children from certain offensive materials.
- Performers should serve as positive role models for children and teenagers.
- The music-video industry should produce videos with more positive themes about relationships, racial harmony, drug avoidance, nonviolent conflict resolution, sexual abstinence, pregnancy prevention, and avoidance of promiscuity.
- Further research on the effects of popular music, lyrics, and music videos on children and adolescents is important and should be conducted.