What can I do to prevent the negative effects of music?
- Find out what kind of music your children like to listen to when they are feeling happy or sad. Hearing them play music on their own at a later time can alert you to how they might be feeling.
- There are many sites that provide lyrics to current hit songs. A Google search for the song title and the word “lyrics” will likely find what you need, but these two sites are also good places to start: A-Z Lyrics Universe and All the Lyrics. Look up the lyrics and see if you agree with the content before you make a purchase.
- Consider purchasing the "edited version" of songs your child enjoys. Many songs have an original (sometimes labeled "explicit") version, along with an edited version so that the song can be played on the radio without objection. Consider purchasing the edited version if your child likes the artist or the beat of a song, but you object to the original lyrics. Mp3 purchasing services (such as iTunes) list the titles of songs and then whether they are explicit or edited in parentheses.
- Help your children become media literate by talking about the messages contained in the lyrics of songs. For instance, talk about how women are being portrayed. Ask them to think about the kinds of bodies they hear described, the way that women are supposed to act according to the song, and how these lyrics make them feel.
- Examine CD covers before you purchase music for your children. If the cover contains images or song titles that are offensive to you, think about whether you want to provide your child with that music. If the cover contains a parental advisory label, it is because it contains "strong language, depictions of violence, sex or substance abuse" and parental discretion is advised.
- Do not assume your child is troubled just because he or she listens to heavy metal music, or any other particular style of music. Do, however, pay close attention to his or her behaviors and feelings. Remember, while heavy metal listening may be a marker for risky behaviors, there is no evidence to suggest it is a cause for such behaviors.
- Make mix CDs or playlists with your children. This shared activity gives children an opportunity to teach parents their technological. While you're creating the mix, take the opportunity to engage in conversation about lyrics and artists, encouraging critical thinking in your children.
- Encourage your children to keep the volume turned down on their headphones and to limit overall exposure to loud music. Permanent hearing damage is possible if children routinely listen to loud music. Consider using noise-canceling headphones, instead of earbuds, to block out background noise, making it possible to hear music more clearly at lower volumes. Recommend earplugs at loud concerts.
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CMCH resources for parents and teachers are made possible
by a grant from the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation.