Music's Effect on Teenagers


Are you interested in learning about music's effect on teenagers? Over the years, the mass media has taken a closer look at the elements of media (music, movies, TV, etc.) that influence teens. Some of these influences are positive on teens while others can be decisively negative.

Why Would Music Effect Teens?

During the teen years, many people use music as an escape. Often, someone will try to find lyrics that best identify with his/her present situation. Empathy through music is one of many ways that teens can help establish who they are, partially because of the diversity of music. No matter what a teen is interested in--from hip hop to pop to metal--there are a large amount of bands in each music scene. There are also many different messages in music. Some songs have lyrics that speak of a passionate love, while others speak of anger. There's music for just about every mood a teen feels.

Understanding Music's Effect on Teenagers

Over the past few decades, three music genres have been focused on for influencing teens in one way or another. These genres are:

  • Rap/hip-hop
  • Metal or hard rock
  • Christian rock


Rap and hip hop are two genres often pegged for effecting teens. Critics of rap and hip-hop state that this music objectifies women and promotes gang violence. Many studies have been done in recent years, such as the one on WebMD reporting that teenagers who listen to rap music are more likely to have babies and engage in risky sexual behavior. Critics of rap suggest that this is because the lyrics in many rap songs promote the idea of women as nothing more than sexual objects. There is also a lack of popular female rappers to help reverse this idea. People in support of rap say that it focuses on creating rhymes rather than sending overt messages.

Another critique of rap and hip hop music is its role in promoting gang violence. The east coast/west coast rivalry in the 1990's which left popular rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur dead are often cited as prime examples of this. Prior to their deaths, both rappers had songs containing lyrics stating they would murder a rival. Those in defense of rap state that these songs do not promote gang violence but describe gang mentality accurately.

Metal or Hard Rock

One of the most well known incidents in which music has been blamed for the actions of a teen was in 1999. Two boys at Columbine High School opened fire on their school and killed 12 students and a teacher. The two boys also ended up committing suicide. The two boys were heavy metal music fans, particularly of Marilyn Manson. Many of Manson's songs speak of topics such as taking your anger out on others and being useless to the world.

Following the killings, many people began to blame heavy metal music and Marilyn Manson for the actions the two teenage boys took. The idea behind this blame was that the music gave the teens the idea and motivation to kill others. Opponents of the idea state that music is just music and that the boys' family should have had more influence over the teens than music.

Christian Rock

One of the forms of music cited with having a positive effect on teens is Christian rock. This style features bands that either believe strongly in God or have lyrics praising Him. Popular Christian rock artists include Reliant K and Switchfoot. The bands receive credit for promoting healthy values in impressionable teens.

Final Thoughts

While it may be difficult to come to a full conclusion on music's effect on teenagers, it is important to remember that teens have many influences. At any given time, a teen is being pulled in many directions. Music is just one of these directions.

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Music's Effect on Teenagers