Can Music Be a Bad Influence on Kids & Teens?

Music has the potential to be a major influence in a child's life. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average child listens to more than 2 1/2 hours of music daily. Music does not necessarily pose problems for teenagers who live a balanced and healthy lifestyle, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The site does warn, however, that, "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."

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Sexualized Behavior

Most song lyrics don't discuss dangers of sexual activity, such as unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Instead, music often glorifies promiscuity and promotes gender stereotypes. According to a study published by the journal "Pediatrics" titled "Exposure to Degrading Versus Nondegrading Music Lyrics and Sexual Behavior Among Youth," adolescents who listen to degrading sexual lyrics are more likely to engage in riskier sexualized behavior. Degrading lyrics tend to objectify both genders and portray men as sex-driven and women as sexual objects.


Research about whether music can increase a teen's suicide risk is mixed. When song lyrics focus on death and suicide, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry warns that it can make suicide seem like a good solution to problems. According to an article published by the journal "Pediatrics," "Heavy metal and some rock music have been associated in some studies with an increased risk of suicide." However, a more recent study published by the "Journal of Youth and Adolescence," states, "It seems that listening to music to express uncomfortable emotions could be a rather effective coping mechanism for girls since it reduces the risk for suicidal behaviors."


Listening to lyrics that involve guns, violence and aggressive behavior can have a negative influence on youth. According to a 2003 study published in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," violent lyrics increase both aggressive thoughts and aggressive feelings. The study also warns, "Repeated exposure to violent lyrics may contribute to the development of an aggressive personality."

Substance Abuse

Drug and alcohol use is often glamorized in song lyrics and in music videos. John Hopkins Children's Center reports that alcohol is portrayed in music videos once every 14 minutes. According to a study published in the journal "Pediatrics," "Increased television and music video viewing are risk factors for the onset of alcohol use in adolescents." Music often portrays substance use as cool without showing the negative consequences of addiction.

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