Listen Up: Why You Should Care What Music Your Child Is Listening To

Parents are often unaware of the type of music and music videos to which their children are exposed, particularly with the ease of downloading, use of headphones, and the accessibility to media content. This content has also become increasingly more explicit. As a result, these types of lyrics and imagery have the potential to negatively impact a youth’s behavior and emotional state.

Parents must take an active role in monitoring and managing the music that their teen is listening to.

It is difficult to regulate the music, lyrics and imagery that children and teens are exposed to. The accessibility to explicit content is unprecedented. The exposure to lyrics and images promoting violence, sexual objectification, and glamorizing substance use, can significantly impact the behaviors and attitudes of adolescents by promoting unhealthy stereotypes and endorsing negative behavior. As a parent and role model, there are many steps that you can take to help lessen the negative influence that certain music and video imagery can have on their child.

What a parent can do:

Be aware. Understand the role that music plays in your children’s life and identify their preferences as potential indicators of their state of mind and emotional struggles. Are they listening to angry, violent music because that is how they are feeling? Are the sad melancholy songs a sign that they are in emotional pain? The music that your child listens to can say something about their internal state, and by recognizing this you may be better able to reach out.

Supervise activity. Monitor the type of music they listen to and what they are purchasing. If unsure, investigate the lyrics of songs by typing them into a music lyric database online to make sure that they are suitable. It is possible to restrict access to web content and online purchases that are not age appropriate.

Become media literate. This is the ability to access, analyze, and evaluate media content. Understand what media platforms your teen is using and learn how to engage with them. Become informed on the ways in which certain applications restrict content. Parents need to respect their child’s autonomy with relation to using social media, while at the same time protecting them from harmful influences.

Have a conversation. Don’t just say, “No, you can’t listen that that.” Discuss the issue with your child or teen. A teen is always going to try to listen to or watch whatever they want, but if they understand why certain lyrics or imagery are not appropriate they will be equipped to make better choices for themselves. A discussion may also help to clarify why your teen chooses a certain type of music.

Know the guidelines. Be aware of the music industry’s Parental Advisory Label Program, which warns consumers of explicit content. When in doubt, look for the label. Know what to look for, and what the guidelines for determining explicit content are.

As a parent it is necessary to find balance between giving your child the independence to make their own choices regarding what they listen to, and safeguarding them from harmful influences. First, step out of the dark. Know what your child listens to and discuss the effects that certain imagery and lyrics can have on them and on society. It doesn’t have to be a process of strict regulation and restriction. After all, the ultimate goal is for your child or teen to make the right choices on his or her own, it just takes a little parental guidance along the way.