Ignoring the World...

March 30, 2011
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For teenagers, music is known as “turn up the volume, ignore the world”. In this generation, teenagers have been dealing with a tremendous amount of problems, whether it is their self-image, peer pressure, academic achievements, their family or maybe just regular stress. What is a safe way of escaping and calming down from reality without doing dangerous actions such as using illegal drugs or having sex? Music is the key. Music has been very common in every generation and culture. And according to the New York Times, teenagers listen to an average of 2.5 hours of music every day and that’s an average of 17.5 hours a week. Almost all teenagers listen to music whether it is pop, rap, classical, rock and roll, R&B, etc. because it is known as their “escape from reality”. Each genre and song has its own emotion, which provides an advantage for teenagers to run away into their own little world. But what many parents and other people don’t realize is that music has a significant effect on teenagers; both helpful and harmful.

A recently published study by Patricia Shehan Campbell, Ph.D., of the University of Washington reveals the importance of music in the lives of young adolescents. Music can benefit one with enjoyment, expression, emotional release and control and peer pressure. Teenagers see music as their “social glue,” as a place of acceptance and tolerance for all kinds of people.

There have also been many studies to test music’s powerful influence on mood and emotion. According to Dr. Peter Ostwald from the University of California, San Francisco, music is “a form of social behavior, a symbolic emotional experience. Music provides a form of nonverbal communication and the expression of emotions is described within the song itself. N. M. Weinberger, a sound researcher, concluded that music can rapidly and powerfully change moods and do so in a way that is not easily attained by other means such as written words. Music along with the mood it creates and the ability of verbal words can create guided imagery that hides the conscious and subconscious images; using music as a shield to hide the painful thoughts. This guided image, which is considered a therapeutic effect that can be used for relaxation and self-healing, is perfect for conflicted and struggling teenagers.

Teenagers have the ability to “bond” with the singer and have a connection with the message of the song. It makes a person feel better with the melody and the meaningful hidden poem of lyrics. The guided imagery it mentally creates makes one forget what they were running away from and it’s a place to escape with various kinds of music. Music has now become the remedy to a broken heart, a pressure world, constant family fighting and just a place to take a break from reality.

Although music can shield teenagers’ avoiding thoughts and provide a separate world for them, they can also be a bad influence on them and encouraging particular behaviors with the different genre of music. According to the Associated Counselors and Therapists, a group of psychotherapists, the development and growth of teenagers can be badly affected by some rock music and other best-selling songs. Teenagers can be more prone to using drugs and alcohol, extremely violent, become masochists and more prone to having sex due to explicit lyrics. Unfortunately, young adolescents have regular access to music that is out of range for parents to watch over. According to the New York Times, researchers from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine tracked 2005’s most popular songs. Only 9% of pop songs had lyrics relating to drugs or alcohol. For rock songs, 14%, 20% for R&B and hip-hop songs, 36% for country songs and 77% for rap songs. Oddly enough, smoking references aren’t commonly used in music today, with only 3% of the songs portraying tobacco use. About 14% of songs spoke of marijuana use, 24% depicted alcohol use, and another 12% referred to other substances. Only about 4% of the songs spoke about anti-drug and alcohol use.
According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health on African-American teenage girls in 1996, participants who were exposed to rap music videos were:
•3 times more likely to have hit a teacher
•More than 2.5 times as likely to have been arrested
•2 times as likely to have had multiple sexual partners
•More than 1.5 times as likely to have acquired a new sexually transmitted disease, used drugs, and used alcohol over the 12-month follow-up period.

A study by RAND Corp., a health care research organization, surveyed 1,461 teens and discovered that those who listened to "objectified and limited characterizations of sexuality” music reported a faster advancement in their own sexual behavior.

Teenagers today are fortunate enough to have a better, harmless way of attaining stress relief and less pressure instead of using drugs or having meaningless sex. Music creates a guided imagery, which hides the painful thoughts the teenager is thinking. But at the same time, the lyrics of some specific genres of music that teenagers listen to could be influenced and encourage careless, risky tasks. But on the flip side, teenagers are less likely to think of suicide but just to put on their earphones, turn up the volume and listen to their favorite, soothing music.

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