Popular Music Influence
I like popular music, along with all genres like R&B, hip-hop, classical and golden oldies. The pre-teens and adolescents that I know are fixated on Rap and don't listen to much else. The influence of Rap music is world-wide, not just the United States, and the entire rap subculture has permeated the world.
The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine published a study that looked at popular music and references to substance abuse. I am not surprised at all by their findings but seeing it in print was a bit of a wake-up.
The authors analysed 279 of the most popular songs of 2005 according to Billboard magazine. They used coders (funny to read about coders for anything other than medicine) who collected portrayals of substance abuse.
Of the 279 songs, 33.3% portrayed substance abuse with an average of 35.2 references per song-hour. The rap songs had the most references at 77%. Pop music had 9%.
Surprisingly, country songs talked about substance abuse with 36% references. R&B/hip hop songs had 20% references to substance abuse.
The references to substance abuse were most often connected with social pressure, partying, sex and violence. Only 4 songs (4%) contained explicit antiuse messages and none talked about substance refusal. The songs portrayed more positive than negative consequences; like social, sexual, financial or emotional.
So what does all of this mean? Well, the average adolescent is exposed to approximately 84 references to explicit substance use daily in popular songs and these songs link drug use in a favorable way.
I am not on a bandwagon to ban music or burn iPods, but studies like these can make us acutely aware of just one of the many negative influences our kids face as they try to grow up.
I know my son is fascinated by, and loves gangster rap. I will use this study as yet another "talking opportunity" about forces that are not healthy for mind or body.