Music plays an important role in the socialization of children and adolescents. Listening to popular music is considered by society to be a part of growing up.Music provides entertainment and distraction from problems and serves as a way to relieve tension and boredom. Some studies have reported that adolescents use popular music to deal with loneliness and to take control of their emotional status or mood.Music also can provide a background for romance and serve as the basis for establishing relationships in diverse settings.Adolescents use music in their process of identity formation,and their music preference provides them a means to achieve group identity and integration into the youth culture.Some authors have suggested that popular music provides adolescents with the means to resolve unconscious conflicts related to their particular developmental stageand that their music preference might reflect the level of turmoil of this stage.
Adolescents’ choice of music and their reactions to and interpretations of it vary with age, culture, and ethnicity. Research has shown that there also is a difference in these variables between the genders.Female adolescents are more likely than male adolescents to use music to reflect their emotional state, in particular when feeling lonely or “down.”Male adolescents, on the other hand, are more likely to use music as a stimulant, as a way to “boost” their energy level, or to create a more positive image of themselves.
To understand the importance of music in the life of adolescents, a survey performed in the early 1990s of 2760 American adolescents aged 14 through 16 years revealed that they listened to music an average of 40 hours per week.In another study in 2000, North et al4found that a sample of 2465 adolescents in England reported listening to music for an average of 2.45 hours per day. On a study performed in 2005 to assess media use of 8- to 18-year-olds in the United States, Roberts et all reported that on a given day, 85% of 8- to 18-year-olds listen to music. Although time devoted to listening to music varies with age group, American youth listen to music from 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day. Still, a study performed with a small sample of at-risk youth revealed an average of up to 6.8 hours of music-listening per day.Furthermore, Roberts et al found that 33% of those listening to music did so while performing other tasks or activities. These data support the idea that the prevalence of music-listening in adolescents may be even higher than that of television viewing. The reason for this is that popular music is present almost everywhere, from the supermarket to the mall, often as background music. It also is easily available through the radio, various recordings, the Internet, and new technologies,allowing adolescents to hear it in diverse settings and situations, alone or shared with friends.
Adolescents are not the only young consumers of popular music. A study with 100 fourth- through sixth-graders revealed that 98% of these children listened to popular music, 72% of them on “most days” or every day.Furthermore, it has been reported that children 8 to 10 years of age listen to music an average of 1 hour per day.With many children and adolescents listening on iPods or other devices using headphones, parents may have little knowledge of what their children are listening to.
Research on popular music has explored several areas such as its effects on schoolwork,social interactions, mood and affect,and particularly behavior Several theories have been developed to explain the relationship between music and behavior,and a number of studies have demonstrated that there is a relationship between music and emotions, regardless of age.Although the emotional response to music depends on the way it is presented, it is also true that it is closely related to the age of the listener and the experiences or preconceived ideas they bring to the music.The effect that popular music has on children’s and adolescents’ behavior and emotions is of paramount concern.There is particular concern related to the lyrics of some genres of music and their effect on children and adolescents.
Lyrics have become more explicit in their references to drugs, sex, and violence over the years. A content analysis of the top 10 CDs performed by the National Institute on Media in 1999 revealed that each of these CDs included at least 1 song with sexual content. Forty-two percent of the songs on these CDs contained very explicit sexual content.Lyrics of some music genres, such as rock, heavy metal, rap, and new emerging genres such as reggaeton, have been found to revolve around topics such as sexual promiscuity, death, homicide, suicide, and substance abuse.Most recently, some rap music has been characterized by the presence of explicit sexual language in its lyrics as well as messages of violence, racism, homophobia, and hatred toward women.Drug, tobacco, and alcohol use also tend to be glorified in these songs.
In refuting concerns about the effect of lyrics, some have argued that children and adolescents use music only for entertainment, that little or no attention is paid to the words, and if any attention is given, understanding tends to be limited and related to the experiences lived by the listener. However, other studies have demonstrated the contrary.Approximately 17% of male adolescents and 25% of female adolescents expressed that they liked their favorite songs specifically because the lyrics were a reflection of their feelings.Also, it has been found that the more importance adolescents give to a certain type of music, the more attention they will pay to the lyrics.Furthermore, Knobloch-Westerwick et al have stated that although young listeners might not understand all the details in lyrics, they recognize enough to obtain a general idea of the message they bring.