No. 40; Updated September 2008
Singing and music have always played an important role in learning and the communication of culture. Children learn from what their role models do and say. For many years, some children's television very effectively used the combination of words, music and fast-paced animation to achieve learning.
Most parents are concerned about what their young children see and hear, but as children grow older, parents pay less attention to the music and videos that capture and hold their children's interest.
Sharing music between generations in a family can be a pleasurable experience. Music also is often a major part of a teenager's separate world. It is quite common for teenagers to get pleasure from keeping adults out, which causes adults some distress.
A concern to many interested in the development and growth of teenagers is the negative and destructive themes of some kinds of music (rock, heavy metal, hip-hop, etc.), including best-selling albums promoted by major recording companies. The following themes, which are featured prominently in some lyrics, can be particularly troublesome:
- Drugs and alcohol abuse that is glamorized
- Suicide as an "alternative" or "solution"
- Graphic violence
- Sex which focuses on control, sadism, masochism, incest, children devaluing women, and violence toward women
Parents can help their teenagers by paying attention to their teenager's purchasing, downloading, listening and viewing patterns, and by helping them identify music that may be destructive. An open discussion without criticism may be helpful.
Music is not usually a danger for a teenager whose life is balanced and healthy. But if a teenager is persistently preoccupied with music that has seriously destructive themes, and there are changes in behavior such as isolation, depression, alcohol or other drug abuse, evaluation by a qualified mental health professional should be considered.