Music and teenagers go hand-in-hand. Most teens today have music with them on-the-go almost everywhere, and they listen to about 2 1/2 hours of music every day, according to a 2008 article at NYTimes.com. The effect that music has on them can be positive in several ways. Songs can enhance their mood, help them study and provide an outlet for creativity and emotion when they play, write or sing. Music is a tool that, when used appropriately, can affect teens in a positive way.
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Music's Bad Side
The potential dangers of music to society have been noted since Plato. In "The Republic," Plato notes that "[A]ny musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited." The American Academy of Pediatrics reported in 1999 in the journal “Pediatrics” that more than 1,000 studies had been done at that time that tied exposure to mass media, including music lyrics, to violence.
However, there is a flip side to the dangers of music and teenagers. If used well, music can positively affect how they feel. Teens who choose music with positive messages or soothing sounds can help themselves relax and to feel better. The stresses of puberty can be mitigated by listening to or creating music with positive sounds and words. The University of Hawaii study found that music can elevate emotions among college students, and Bach’s music was found to make the “‘brain work in a balanced way better than any other genre,’” according to Arthur Harvey, a neuromusicologist at the University of Hawaii, quoted in a 2009 BBC article.
Tobias Greitmeyer of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom studied groups of students and how listening to different types of music affected them, according to a 2010 article in “The Guardian.” One group listened to “pro-social” music and acted kinder and more empathetic than those who listened to songs with neutral lyrics or those that did not have any message in their words. A researcher would “accidentally” knock a cup of pencils off the table as one measure of how music affected behavior. Students listening to the positive message music picked up the pencils faster and almost five times as many on average than the other groups. The BBC report also stated that the Australian Music Association found that an education in music can lead to increased social and team skills.
Music can help your teen study better and earn higher grades, too. In the May 2006 issue of the “Journal of Educational Psychology,” the research of E. Glen Schellenberg, was featured, which found that music lessons in childhood correlated significantly with better grades and a higher IQ in young adults. The Stanford University School of Medicine found that music positively affects the areas of the brain for attention, updating events in memory and making predictions. The Australian Music Association further found that music education can help a child have better reasoning and problem-solving skills, as well as a better memory and math and language performance. Choosing the right genre that does not distract a teen from working and concentrating is important because some music can be distracting in both its lyrics and its rhythm and tones.
- Pediatrics: Media Education -- Committee on Public Education
- The Guardian: Positive Lyrics Can Hit Home with Grumpy Teenagers, Study Says
- American Psychological Association: Music Lessons May Boost IQ and Grades
- The Equinox: Studies Show that Music Affects Your Study Habits and Grades
- Classic Reader: The Republic by Plato