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Does the Type of Music a Child Listened to Affect the Way They Will Behave?

by Lillian Wade, studioD

Music is an important socialization tool for children, and its frequency has proliferated over the last 40 years. Parents are sometimes unaware of the type of music to which their children are listening, but they are most concerned about loud music and lyrics denoting sex, drugs and violence. Listen with your child and let her know your views about sex or other negative aspects of the music. Encourage her to question whether she wants to be represented in that way.


Children who listen to heavy metal music have a greater propensity for substance abuse and other risky behaviors during adolescence, according to the American Association of Pediatrics. Desensitizing lyrics with negative messages tend to encourage behavior that is violent or anti-social. According to the AAP, parents need to be more cognizant of the music to which their children are listening, and regulations need to be put in place requiring labeling of negative content.


The combined impact of visualization and lyrics in music videos is a double threat to the adolescent psyche. Even if your child does not understand the lyrics, suggestive moves, substance abuse and violent content are glamorized, and an impressionable adolescent is highly susceptible to its allure. Watching a few of these videos with your young children gives you the opportunity to discuss the content and helps them select more appropriate videos. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, more research is needed to determine the impact, but a Swedish study indicated that adolescents who became interested in rock music at an early age were often more influenced by their peers than those who became interested at a later age.


According to the Rand Corporation, the sexual behaviors of both adolescent males and females are influenced by music that contains sexually explicit lyrics. Research indicates that songs that trivialize sexual intercourse and suggest that men are sexually voracious profoundly affect adolescent sexual behavior. In a study of more than 1,400 adolescents ages 12 to 17, Rand researchers found that those who listened to music that objectified both sexes began having sex sooner than those who did not. They make the distinction between sexually degrading lyrics and other songs about sex, which do not have the same influence.


Although negative lyrics have negative impacts, other types of music have the opposite effects. In a study noted by Healthy Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics, more pleasing music -- such as oldies or classical selections -- was found to make the participants feel happier and friendlier. Dentists, radiation therapists and doctors who are about to perform surgery can attest to the calming effects of music as it promotes tranquility and decreases anxiety. In addition, psychologists recognize the benefits of music to treat depression and other serious medical conditions.

About the Author

In 1968 Lillian Wade began teaching English with writing as an essential component, overseeing class newspaper projects each year. Wade holds a Bachelor of Science in business education with a minor in English from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Science in career education from California State University.

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