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Doctors advised to ask about kids' listening habits

In two recent policy statements, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that pediatricians ask questions about what their patients are watching and listening to.

The statements put extra emphasis on music . Studies have suggested that children and teens spend more time each day listening to music rather than watching TV, with parents often unaware of the lyrics, especially if kids are downloading music on their own or listening with headphones.

The statements claim that lyrics have become more explicit in references to sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and violence.

Preferences for certain types of music have also been matched to specific behavior patterns.

For example, the kind of electronic music played at raves has been associated with the use of drugs and alcohol, while heavy metal and rap have been associated with reckless behavior and below-average academic performance. Heavy metal and some rock music have also been associated with an increased risk of suicide, depression, delinquency, and risky behavior.

"With the evidence portrayed in these studies, it is essential for pediatricians and parents to take a stand regarding music lyrics," the authors said.

Music videos have also been shown to have an influence on the behaviors and attitudes of children and teens, including an increased concern about appearance and weight among adolescent girls.

Taking these findings into consideration, the authors recommended that pediatricians do the following:

  • Become familiar with the role of music in the lives of children and adolescents and identify music preferences that could be clues to emotional conflict or problems.
  • Become familiar with the literature linking music to behavioral problems.
  • Explore with patients and parents the type of music they are listening to.
  • Encourage parents to take an active role in monitoring their youngsters' music and music video watching.
  • Encourage parents and caregivers to become media literate.


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