Popular Music and Kids

Updated on May 18, 2013
M.S. asks from Omega, OK
15 answers

Do you ever feel concerned about the lyrics on the radio/top 40 and the impact on your kids? I know I risk sounding like a fuddy duddy asking this question. My two girls love to listen to popular music and for the longest time I never played it in the car or at home. Partly because I am not a big fan but mostly because a lot of the lyrics are about dating and sex and all that jazz. My girls are 7 and 10. I play a lot of contemporary Christian music which has a lot of rock and pop songs but my girls hear the other music at other houses and roll their eyes at my song list. I know not all the songs on the radio have sexual content but they mostly focus on dating. I think I have officially become my mother :)

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answers from Raleigh on

Considering my first album was "Like a Virgin", I don't think the racy lyrics are anything new. And honestly, I had no idea what a virgin was and really didn't care. Having said that, my mom never censored what I listened to. My father was a musician, so I listened to all types of music. I didn't grow up to be a sex crazed teenager or anything, and had good morals.
Being a musician myself, I don't censor either. Luckily, my oldest (6 yo) is into acid jazz. No lyrics.... perfect! :)

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I tend to listen to NPR and classic rock. It just sounds better to me. A lot of the songs now just seem to have trashy lyrics and I don't like them. My son is 6 and he's not big into music. Since we have grooveshark on the computer at home and he's not in the car that long, it's not really an issue. He may end up being "out of touch" music wise since we listen to the less contemporary stuff. But honestly, the music is better - more interesting and complex most of the time. If there were more performers like Adele, I'd listen to the radio music stations more.

If you do turn a song off, it's a good opportunity to talk about WHY - these kinds of conversations will give your kiddos strong critical thinking skills.

ADD: my son did sing "hey, sexy lady" in the car and I'm not sure where he heard it... but I let him know that sexy was a grown-up word and he could pick a different word if he liked singing the tune. He then had fun putting other words in the place of sexy :)

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answers from Los Angeles on

Yeah, I'm a classic rocker/80s music/NPR lady in the car (music was better then and not as overtly risque for the most part). At home, we listen to our own CDs so we can monitor what's on better. Plus our music is better than the radio! But I totally hear what you're saying and I feel the same. I have an 8 yo. You might want to check into the Kids Bop CDs. Remakes of all the popular songs of today, but cleaner versions.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I never grew up with my music censored. I grew up in the 70s and 80s and my dad did, and still does have a very extensive and eclectic music collection. My husband and I are exactly the same way, his dad also has an impressive music collection.
I grew up on everything. From Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd to Jimmy Hendrix to Donny Osmond, Rolling Stones and The Beatles and Bach and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
As I got older I was listening to Prince and Duran Duran and anything else.
There were sexy lyrics then too, there were even a lot about *gasp* drug use.
My kids listen to whatever we listen to as well. My husband and I have an extensive collection ourselves.
No one here is scared for life. No one here has let those lyrics lead them to unsavory behavior.
I just don't see a problem.

They even played "Gundam Style" at Disneyland on New Years Eve which leads me to feel like it's really not all that bad.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I'm in the 'not worried about contemporary pop music lyrics' camp. We often have the illusion that pop culture was better/cleaner/sweeter when we were young, however it's just not true. Think about 'Foxy Lady' and 'Are You Experienced?' by Jimi Hendrix (died 1970), or Elvis Prestley's songs which got him nicknamed 'Elvis the Pelvis'! Historically, pop music has been about love, sex, and boundary pushing, and each era has thought their version is okay while the next one's isn't. I like the point others made that listening to 'risky' music can be a part of a fantasy life, playing with an identity that one never would actually assume. Okay, I don't particularly like gangsta rap--too harsh for me. But I'm not concerned it's going to influence my kids to imitate the lyrics. When 11 year old son saw a YouTube video of Gangam Style (after seeing some spoofs of it), he came over and told me 'that's not very appropriate' and informed his classmates later about how it wasn't 'appropriate.' So our kids can evaluate these things.

That being said, we only listen to NPR and tapes/CDs in the car and at home (when I'm in charge...my husband has different tastes). My objection to Top 40 is that the music usually isn't very interesting and above all, I hate the ads. They bore and annoy me. So, we stay away from commercial radio for that reason.

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't listen to a lot of radio in the car. Kids absorb so much and I don't need my 4 yr old singing, "hey, sexy lay-dee" even if I like the song. I either change the station on some songs or play her a mix of appropriate music I have collected. I'm not as worried about "Romeo and Juliet" type songs as I am the ones that have inappropriate content. I also try to weigh that I can't fully control what my kid hears somewhere else. Just driving down the road to the mall in summer can get you an earful of someone else's rap or heavy metal. If a song is really bad, then you can simply tell them why you don't want them to play it in your home.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I never worried about it. When she was little, my daughter listened to what I listened to. At the age of 5, she knew all the words to "Me and Bobby McGee:"
She came home from her first day at school astounded that none of her classmates had ever heard of Bob Dylan.

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answers from Washington DC on

when i think of the insinuations in the songs i loved growing up! i had no idea until i was well into adulthood that they were so naughty.
like most old fuddy duddies, i think it's over-the-top explicit today, but every set of parents and grandparents always think that. i did go through a phase of censoring music, only to find out my kids were listening to eminem and korn at other place. and the next thing i knew, i was in love with eminem and korn because my freakin' kids took over my musical eddication.
i honestly think the best response to a song coming on that you absolutely cannot stand for your children to hear is to turn it off, have a lively discussion about why it offends you, then turn it back on and enjoy the music until it happens again. the only thing better than the music when i was still driving my kids everywhere were the conversations.
:) khairete

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My mom always played top 40 kind of music and I never thought anything was wrong with it, even when I was younger....probably because it wasn't made to be a big deal. I think if you make it a big deal, then it will become a big deal. I think it's important to let them make their own decisions and expose them to all types of music.

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answers from Boise on

I think every generation faces this, and I've kinda done what my mom did which was nothing.

Honestly half the time I don't even know what the song is about, i just like the rhythm lol

We have a wide range of music styles in this house, so I feel my kids get a good balance, about the only music I can't stand is rap, that I will turn off but that's cause it gives me a headache.

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answers from San Francisco on

I grew up listening to rock and roll, disco, R & B, new wave and pop.
When I was younger I didn't pay attention to the lyrics, most kids don't as far as I can tell.
Sure as a parent I sometimes cringe at some of the things out there now, but I just don't think it's that big of a deal.
I've got three teenagers now and MUCH bigger things to worry about, like paying for college for the next eight years!!!

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answers from New Orleans on

I did the same with my son. I never played the top 40 station - chose Contemporary Christian, CDs of older, less suggestive music, etc. Which was odd for me, as I grew up listening to a myriad of genres - basically Bach to Zeppelin.

Of course, he came home from friends houses singing lyrics that made me cringe. So I began limited doses of top 40 - more so because I could not stand most of it - and began to discuss the lyrics - what they meant/implied - why they were offensive/funny - what we liked about the songs - tempo, instruments, vocals.

So top 40 became just another door - a way to discover genres, history and culture, mores and values. Once I relaxed, I realized that I was introducing him to more than music - just like my Mother did with me.

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answers from Boca Raton on

IMHO you are wise. I didn't quite "get" how negative some popular music is until my sons were older.

We still listen to it but we talk about it more.

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answers from New York on

I buy the Kids Bop Cds. They are the popular songs trimmed of sex and words. They are wonderful.

I am not a fuddy duddy whatsoever, but, I don't want my 7 year old to watch Rhianna videos and think that is ok. She is not what I want my daughter looking at and comparing herself to. The same goes for many pop stars today. I know that she will soon face all of this - but at 7, I want her to remain a little girl.

ETA - anyone remember the song "In the Bush" from the 70s. Push, push in the bush. So I agree - the world has not changed - just how much we know about and can see has.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Roanoke on

I work in a place where it is the music that sells, and we play what we sell over our radio. I have young girls come in there, yet we play Tyler The Creator who sings about raping women and killing them. I personally hoped parents would get mad and ask us to change it because I don't like it, but so far no one has said anything. I grew up listening to The Misfits, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, and Godsmack, bands that a lot of parents wouldn't allow their children to listen to, but my parents always told me that Rob and Alice are theatre rock, they do it for show and that's not who they are and that The Misfits are horror punk, also not who they are, it's shock value.
My biggest concern isn't what the kids are listening to but how little most parents care. I had a 12 year old buy an Insane Clown Posse shirt, whom of now are considered a gang! I told the mother about this, and she told me to mind my own business!

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