Violent Music and Its Impact on Children


How does violent music affect youth? Are there reasons why it should be banned? This essay aims to answer the questions. If focuses on violent music and its impact on children. It explains positive and negative effects of violent songs on mood and behavior of children and adolescents.

Music is one of the most influential tools that have captured the attention of children, especially in the 21st century. Most of the past empirical research studies carried out among children below the age of eighteen years reveal that music plays an integral role in shaping their opinions daily. For instance, it has been found out that most young people spend a lot of time listening to music compared to the time they allocate in doing other activities.

In particular, their spare time is largely advocated towards listening to music (Tarrant, North & Hargreaves, 2001). The media used to listen to music also determines the amount of time that young people spend in this form of entertainment. For instance, in a quantitative study carried out in California, most junior school children were found to spend up to four hours every day listening to music on television while some could spend over three hours on the radio every day (Tarrant, North & Hargreaves, 2001).

Impact of Violent Music on Youth

While music is generally considered to be a source of entertainment and relaxation for mankind, the nature of music in place also determines the overall impact. It is vital to mention that children and adolescents are often receptive to whatever comes their way.

In other words, their opinions are easily formed by the messages that come across them. In the case of violent music on either radio or television, the net effect on young people is disastrous. This paper offers an incisive look at how violent music may be psychologically harmful to children.

To begin with, it is worth to mention that music provides some form of pleasure to all age groups across the globe. However, this pleasure may be extreme among adolescents and young people compared to older age groups or adults who are already mature. Young people tend to take pleasure derived from music to a completely different level of excitement. Therefore, since music is central in the life of young growing minds, it must have important impacts on their lives.

To conclusively explore how violent music can impact the lives of young people, it is perhaps necessary to explore various uses of popular music as perceived by the adolescents and children alongside offering an analytical look at how certain forms of music can be disastrous to children who are yet to form independent opinions.

Popular music has been categorized as the main source of violent lyrics and tones that can easily infiltrate in the minds of the youth. Pop music is also known to possess the ability to modify the mood of children a bit faster than other forms of music genres. In the case of violent popular music with abusive lyrics, children are usually highly vulnerable to embrace and even adopt the contents of such forms of music. It is interesting to note that children are at the stage of growth that can accept anything.

When abusive words are contained in the lyrics of music, children will take it as the basic truth. As a result, they may end up adopting certain behavioral patterns similar to those they hear or listen to from music media.

In a research study carried out by Diamond, Bermudez, and Schensul (2006), it was found out that music videos are even more lethal to children because they can both see and hear the music being played. Children who are addicted to video music may sometimes not even be keen on lyrics. Violent performance acts portrayed in the video songs tend to influence the youngsters towards believing abstract things.

The actions and thought patterns of youngsters tend to influence their respective behaviors, values, and attitudes especially in terms of the content that they receive from music (Reddick & Beresin, 2002) As a matter of fact, the content of violent music is the most important parameter worth considering when exploring this subject. Substance abuse, Satanism, suicide, racism, misogyny, and acts of immorality are some of the dirty contents that are usually portrayed in violent popular music.

Surprisingly, children and adolescents are often attracted quite easily to such contents in comparison to music lyrics that promote peace, love, care, and unity in society. Hard rock and classical music have also been used to demonstrate the lavish lifestyles of artists who are after that admired by young people. In any case, the lifestyles of most music artists who perform violent rock, classical or pop music are often admired by children and adolescents to the extent that the artists become their role models.

When immorality is portrayed as a fashionable lifestyle by pop stars, children are easily influenced to the extent that they start behaving in the same manner. One disheartening issue is that the abusive lifestyles of pop artist are associated with success and fame in life, thereby interfering with the right judgment of young people.

Adolescents are also at high risk of experimenting with hard drugs after listening and absorbing the words of violent lyrics in a song. The way they interpret violent song lyrics is not the same way adults do it. Violent messages that glorify substance abuse, crime, or even pornography are found in violent songs. Unfortunately, children and adolescents have the desire to experiment with the contents of such songs.

How Does Violent Music Affect Youth?

For the young people to feel part and parcel of the violent song lyrics, they often desire to go a step ahead and implement the same ideals into their own lives. They discover and attempt to implement a lot in their lifestyles after interpreting the messages contained in violent lyrics.

In other words, children and teenagers want to be extremely reactive to the lyrics which they hear and also contribute effectively towards implementing what they hear in those lyrics. These can be disastrous in the life of a young person bearing in mind that violent music entirely contains abusive or disruptive behavior that may completely ruin the perspective and life of children and teenagers.

The massive and uniform impacts of violent music are never similar to the media effects of music on young people in society. This has been the underlying assumption for an extremely long time. It is pertinent to note that media houses have specific target audiences.

While some violent contents may be played in audio-visual media, it is quite incorrect to assume that the effects generated by controlled media are synonymous to the specific impacts of violent music to the young people. It is understood that media channels reach a large number of audiences. However, the negative undertones of violent music can pose gross impacts on young growing minds compared to the general content played in media houses.

Ethnicity, culture, and age play an integral role in regards to the influence if the music on children. Gender has also been identified as a dominant factor-like influence created by music. For instance, the energy level of male teenagers is boosted by music, while the emotional state of female adolescents may be impacted either positively or negatively in the presence of music. This implies that music has its unique effects regardless of its nature or content.

Schoolwork is significantly affected by exposure to pop music. Also, mood and social interactions are influenced by the content of popular music that a young person likes. Worst of all, the behavioral patterns of young people who listen to pop, rock, or classical music are usually modified at one point or another. Several past studies have demonstrated that behavior and music are closely related.

As much as the listener’s age is an important factor to consider in this discussion, it is still vital to mention that emotions and behavior contribute significantly towards the level of influence generated by listening to pop violent music (Villani, 2001).

As already mentioned in the above discussion, tendencies towards acts of violence, sex, and drugs have been common underlying messages in music lyrics for a long time now. Sexual content is a common theme in modern classical and pop music. Rap and heavy metal music also contain lyrics that depict large scale magnitude of violence. Deadly themes like suicide, homicide, death, and sexual promiscuity are always evident in most of the modern age lyrics.

Some scholars argue that children and young adults use music largely for entertainment and as such, they are not concerned with the words contained in these songs. As much as this may be true to some listeners, other studies have revealed that lyrics of specific songs is the major source of attention for about 30% of female teenagers and 20% of male adolescents.

Dance events that entail electronic or rave music have a close link with drug and substance abuse among teenagers. When adolescents and other young growing children listen to certain types of music, they get an inner feeling of hate, and negativity (North, Hargreaves & O’Neill, 2000). These are the same feelings that they eventually put into action to be like their preferred artists. They even engage in risk-taking behaviors without having a second, though on the effects of such behaviors.

For example, when adolescents engage in drug and substance abuse due to the influence of violent music, they completely lose control of their lives and eventually end up as social misfits. Some studies carried out during the advent of the 21st century reveal that cases of suicide have been accelerated by heavy exposure to rock music and heavy metal lyrics.

Adolescents who have a great liking to heavy metal music are more likely to face a lot of disciplinary issues both at home and school compared to their peers who are not addicted to these types of music. Conduct related problems, smoking, delinquency risk behavior, and intense depression are also linked with listening to heavy metal music. Adolescents who are passionate about rap and rock music have been known to engage in don’t care attitude, unlike their age mates who have little interest in such types of music.

The performance of children at the elementary school level is also likely to be affected by immense exposure to violent forms of music. For instance, once a child has discipline problems with the school administration, his or her grades will go down due to reckless behavior linked with these types of music.

It has also been found out that teenagers and children who have undergone previous failures in life are highly likely to be fans of rap or violent pop music. The lyrics contained in these songs depict their pessimistic perspective of life, bearing in mind that they strongly believe that they have been alienated (Roberts & Christensen, 2001).

Children and adolescents have a greater liking to music videos than mere audio content. It is imperative to mention that popular music and television are combined whenever talking about music videos. Hence, the impact of music videos on children and adolescents is multiple (Chapin, 2000). There are unique messages that are promoted by music videos, unlike the mere audio content.


Summing up, when referring to the impacts of music videos on children, it is worthy to note that they are two-tier in nature. There are two types of music videos that can significantly influence the opinions of children. These include concept videos and performance videos. The latter entails a real concert whereby artists perform during a music event.

Conversely, concept videos often contain stories that do not correlate with the song. A particular theme may be developed throughout the concept video in the sense that the viewer is compelled to embrace certain messages gradually with time. Eventually, the viewer is convinced of the concept being represented. On the overall, the messages presented in music videos are more powerful and persuasive compared to simple audio music. This explains why the impacts of video music are enormous.


Chapin, J.R. (2000). Adolescent sex and mass media: A developmental approach. Adolescence, 35 (140), 799– 811.

Diamond, S., Bermudez, R. & Schensul, J. (2006). What’s the rap about ecstasy? Popular music lyrics and drug trends among American youth. J Adolesc Res., 21 (3), 269– 298.

North, A.C., Hargreaves, D.J & O’Neill, S.A. (2000). The importance of music to adolescents. Br J Educ Psychol, 70 (2), 255– 272.

Reddick, B.H. & Beresin, E.V. (2002). Rebellious rhapsody: metal, rap, community and individuation. Acad Psychiatry, 26 (1), 51– 59.

Roberts, D.F. & Christensen, P.G. (2001). Popular music in childhood and adolescence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Tarrant, M., North, A.C. & Hargreaves, D.J. (2001). Social categorization, self-esteem, and the estimated musical preferences of male adolescents. J Soc Psychol, 141 (5), 565– 581.

Villani S. (2001). Impact of media on children and adolescents: a 10-year review of the research. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 40 (4), 392– 401.

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