The Power Of Music

Doing some reading this morning, I came across this interesting bit of research (via this blog):

“(Among young adolescents) high exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex in popular music was independently associated with higher levels of sexual behavior. In fact, exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex was one of the strongest associations with sexual activity…” – Science Daily
This study seems to underscore the “DUH” factor that would come with simple common sense.  If kids are listening to lots of verbage that talks frankly and graphically about sex, they’re going to be interested in having sex.
Read that quote again:  the highest association with sexual activity in the study group (ninth grade kids, by the way) was “exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex.”  It’s not R movies, it’s not TV, it’s not what their friends are doing or not doing – it’s what they’re listening to.
Go read the article here.
And that adjective “degrading”?  Think that’s off the spectrum?  Think again.  Directly from the blog I read today, here’s a few choice lyrics from the artists who were the nominees for Nickelodeon’s 2009 Kids’ Choice Awards:

“Now take it off while I watch you perform.” (Suga Mama)
Chris Brown
“Let’s get and make love on Venus.” (Gimme Whatcha Got)
Alicia Keys
“So maybe we can go to first base because I feel you.” (Teenage Love Affair)
Jesse McCartney
“Spend the night with me and I’ll rock you.” (Rock You)
Katy Perry
“I kissed a girl just to try it/I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it.” (I Kissed a Girl)
Pussycat Dolls
“I can get off when you ain’t around.” (I Don’t Need a Man)
“What you got up in them jeans? Put it on me, or get lonely.” (Lemme Get That)
Kid Rock
“That little p**** l***** finger f***** h* a** c***.” (F*** U Blind)
“She was s***** on me. And I was l***** on her.” (69)

I’m not advocating that we boycott Beyonce – I love some of her music.  I like Chris Brown.  I am not suggesting that anybody ought to ban kids from listening to this stuff.  But we’d better not stick our heads in the sand about the power of what’s on their iPod.  
I’m writing as a parent here.  I have four teenagers, and one of my greatest hopes is that they make good, healthy choices as they mature – spiritual, emotional and physical.  They don’t live in a cave – they’re exposed to a good bit of popular culture.  They love music; it’s a powerful influence on them and an outlet for expression.  And as a parent, I’ve got to be informed about what it is that’s influencing them so powerfully.
I want to influence my kids against having sex – not because it’s sinful and it will send them to the pit of hell, but because of the consequences – spiritual, emotional and physical.  I’m not sure I can identify one single benefit of early sexual activity, other than the instantaneous physical gratification.  It’s all downhill from there.  I want the best for my kids, and having sex at this point in their lives is not it.  They have the power to choose; they can make the opportunity should they so desire – but I’ve got to do the best I can to guide and influence them to make healthy decisions. That’s my responsibility.
Maybe you disagree with me as a parent; maybe you’re happy for your kid to be getting some at the tender age of 15. Or 14.  Plenty of them are, you know.
Check out their playlist.  Start a conversation.  Have a frank discussion.  Talk about it.  It’s worth the effort.  And, if you’re a parent, it’s your job.

6 thoughts on “The Power Of Music

  1. Wow.I knew that pop culture played such a HUGE role in how kids behave, but dang.That’s just powerful.Music… Good to know what an influence it has, for better or for worse.


  2. Awesome awesome post! Yeah, it’s quite disturbing that teenagers and below are influenced by some of pop music’s DEGRADING lyrics. Turn on the radio, and half of the songs are about making whoopie. Sheesh, can we get a break here? I don’t want to hear that stuff on the way to school!! Or church!! Or…anywhere! And I agree that teenagers having sex affects them in all ways. We are all a witness to that. …I think maybeeee this whole culture and its obsession with permiscuity (sp?) dehumanizes people. Especially women!! Makes me mad!! And by dehumanizing I mean the lyrical impact on people’s minds can alter our vision of people and see them more as sexual objects?? It’s a possibility I’m taking this to the extreme? However, this was an excellent post!! Love you, Mama Brawley!!!


  3. What a great insight…something we needed to see. We forget the power of words that are packaged in music.I want my kids to make it to their wedding night as virgins because of the enormous baggage that comes from premarital sex. The consequences, as you say, are enormous. But they also linger for years…even into their marriage. While I don’t often talk about sin (because it’s hard and sounds so judgmental), that doesn’t mean that I don’t have strong feelings about it. In John 8, Jesus is brought a woman who was caught sleeping with a man who was not her husband. Jesus extended tremendous grace, but he also told her the truth about her actions: “Go, and leave your life of sin”God’s very best for us is to only have sex with our husband or wife. Anything other than that is…well…contrary to what God wants. We call that…sin.Thanks, Beth, for prompting us to be aware and maybe to do something about it.


  4. Thanks Beth.. awesome post and I totally agree. I have tried to explain to Amanda why I don’t want her listening to these songs.. without getting into so much of those details.. she really doesn’t understand WHY I won’t let her put these artists on her ipod. You have made me see that maybe I should do better at banning the song and not the entire artist.angela


  5. Remember “garbage in, garbage out”? It sure applies here. If they put a lot of trashy thoughts into those beautiful minds, some trashy behaviors might work there way out. Being a parent is not for wimps. God doesn’t want us to be their friends, but their guides. We don’t need to let kids make decisions about anything that they are not equipped intellectually, or emotionally to handle. Sometimes it means what music they hear. Music like that can leave victims in it’s wake and we don’t want our kids hurt. We can’t stop it, but we can guide and when necessary, just say no. It’s ok, that’s why God gave kids parents, they are smarter and more experienced at making choices.


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