It’s really not that hard to figure out. It’s amazing that so many are blind to it. But here it is, plain and simple: More raunchy music means kids having sex earlier. And the more a song refers to substance abuse… yep, you guessed it… the greater a chance kids will try those substances.
Think about it for a second. If you’re a kid who listen’s to an average of 2.4 hours of music per day (that is the average), and the typical song you’re listening to is talking about stuff that goes on in the bedroom… how do you think this will influence you?
Our kids will tell us, “It doesn’t affect me!” (If you want to ask them yourself, join us in our survey from this blog and post your results within the next week or two)
Opinions are a dime a dozen. What do studies show?
This article from a while back summarized it pretty well, tying raunchy music to losing virginity sooner:
Teenagers whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.
Whether it’s pop, rock, hip-hop or rap, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.
Songs depicting men as “sex-driven studs,” women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.
Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Excellent article, I recommend reading the whole thing. There are plenty of good articles out there on this subject. Some tying TV to teens starting sex early.
But what about the use of substances? Does music really affect that?
The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine just published a new report analyzing the 279 most popluar songs our kids listen to. 33.3% portrayed substance abuse, with an average of 35.2 substance references per song-hour.
Here’s what the experts in this study said:
“There is convincing evidence that exposure to certain media messages increases substance use in adolescents. For instance, viewing smoking in movies prospectively predicts a substantial proportion of adolescent smoking initiation. Similarly, exposure to smoking-related media promotions is associated with smoking initiation. Alcohol use in movies and promotions is also linked to actual alcohol use. While the most frequently studied genres for this research include movies, television, and advertising, health behavior theory strongly supports a link between music exposure and substance use. According to the social learning model, human beings learn not only by direct experience but also by exposure to modeled behavior, such as that represented in popular music.”
And they rapped it up well…
“Music is wellknown to connect deeply with adolescents and to influence identity development, perhaps more than any other entertainment medium.”
Side note: that report was phenomenal. It broke music down by genre. I wasn’t surprised to find that hip-hop and rap were two of the top three that contained the most mention of substance abuse (Country was also very high).
Am I picking on hip-hop and rap?
Why? Well, it happens to be the most popular genre by far. I’ve gone into great detail about this in past articles for sure… and if you don’t believe me, just look at the top 10 Billboard songs or the top 10 iTunes downloads any day of the week. The influence of hip-hop still dominates.
So What Can We Do As Parents and Youth Workers?
1. Find out what your kids think. Ask them yourself. Join us in our survey from this blog and post your results within the next week or two– your results will help us help you!
2. Talk with your kids about this. Note: I didn’t say, “PREACH TO THEM ABOUT THIS!” The emphasis here is more about LISTENING than talking. As a parent, I’m always looking for opportunities to dialogue with my own kids about anything. As a youth worker, I’m always looking for real issues that kids want to discuss. Music is something that they will often be excited to talk about. Use this an open door to discuss our character. (we even linked some great discussions you can use in that blog mentioned above)
3. Parents: Don’t be afraid to take the advice I offered at the bottom of this blog about television. I recommend using two bottons on your remote control often: The pause button, and the “Off” button.