Can Music Be a Bad Influence on Kids & Teens?

Teenagers enjoy music, and kids between 8 and 18 cite listening to music as their second choice among media activities, states the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Generation M2 Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds.” With some music genres involving questionable lyrics and messages, as well as music videos showing graphic content, music might have a negative influence of kids and teenagers 1.

Music Genres

Some genres of music might contain negative or destructive themes, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Hip-hop, rock and heavy metal genres have a high association with destructive themes.

Destructive Themes

Destructive themes include a glamorization of drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, graphic violence and violent or inappropriate sexual messages, states the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. In songs that include substance use, lyrics generally advocate motivation to use by peer or social pressure and sex and violence often accompanies substance use. An average teenager receives exposure to about 84 daily references to substance use in popular music, with most instances having positive association and consequences.


Many types of music can have a relaxing and calming effect on people, with soft sounds and soothing tempos. Alternative, hip-hop or hard rock often has the opposite effect on a listener, states the Association for Natural Psychology, a New Jersey non-profit corporation 3. As music hammers relentlessly, excitement level and emotions can rise and fall dramatically in the teen listener.

Parental Involvement

Kids with a healthy and balanced lifestyle probably are not at a significant risk for harm from music, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. However, if you notice changes in your child, such as:

  • a preoccupation with destructive music
  • depression
  • isolation
  • moodiness
  • substance abuse
  • consider seeking professional intervention for your child

Pay attention to the music your child chooses and listen to it yourself to sample the lyrics and messages. If you notice destructive themes, talk to your youngster about these concerns without attacking or criticizing. An open and relaxed discussion should help you communicate your concerns and enable your child to understand the potential issues.

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