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Music’s Effect on Teenagers

This is an essay considering the effect music has on its large teenage audience.

Concern over the effects of music on its large teenage audience started over 50 years ago, in 1956, when pop legend Elvis Presley swiveled his hips for thousands of viewers to see on TV. Now, the average teen listens to almost two and a half hours per day. One in three popular songs has a reference in it to drug or alcohol use. This means that every hour, a teen is receiving over thirty references to substance abuse. This adds up to over thirty thousand a year. Ever since Elvis, critics have been researching and studying teenage behavior to see the magnitude of music’s influence. They have said that listening to such music that has bad references in it has lead to a desensitization of youth towards violence, sex, and illegal substances. This means that we have people around us soon to be adults that are being fed the idea that these things are somehow no big deal. Studies have shown that teen guys look to music for emotional stimulation, so like they use it to put themselves in a mood, while females look to it to reinforce their current mood. This is because music has the ability to truly affect your emotions, whether it be positively or negatively. With this in mind, it is extremely important to discern what music that you listen to, because even if you don’t mean for it to, it can impact your life. 

In 1985, the Parents Music Resource Center, or PMRC, worked to persuade the recording industry to label records that had explicit content. This came after a Prince song called “Darling Nikki” which parents found very offensive. Now, all albums which contain explicit content are labeled this way, and often a listener must be eighteen in order to buy such an item from the store. Many parents make rules for their teenagers that they mustn’t listen to music with the explicit rating. For a lot of people, this is a way to help restrict the music they listen to. Laws have been passed to restrict the content of songs also. Since in recent years artists have been becoming less concerned with the content of their songs and how it will affect their audience, the laws of censorship that govern the content of songs have had to change. Many artists have to fight to keep their freedom as the government gets stricter about these things, and there is the question of government involvement, as to whether or not the government is infringing on the artist’s freedom of speech. Some artists are making an effort to make their music more audience friendly. Nicki Minaj said, “I made a conscious decision to try to tone down the sexiness, I want people- especially young girls- to know that in life, nothing is going to be based on sex appeal. You’ve got to have something else to go with that.” Now this is not totally pure and true, but its getting better. 

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