Music surrounds us. We hear it in TV commercials, in movies, in the car, at school, at work, and at home. Teens listen to about three hours of music a day and acquire more than 10,000 hours worth of active music listening throughout their adolescence.
While the type of music teens listen to won’t necessarily force them to think or act a certain way, it can have a powerful effect on their emotions, perception, and behavior in both positive and negative ways.
Music and emotion are closely connected. Music creates a wide range of emotions, and there’s music for every emotion a teen feels, from anger and sorrow to love and happiness. And teens, who typically experience an extensive range of emotions each day, see music as a way to express and deal with these emotions.
Most teens use music as an escape. They find songs with specific lyrics that help them recognize, process, and express certain emotions they can’t or don’t want to talk about with their family and friends. Music can also be their way to connect with someone who is feeling what they’re feeling. It can also be a means of self-expression, especially if they’re into writing or playing their own songs and musical instruments.
Recent research shows that music doesn’t just affect a person’s mood. It can also change the way someone perceives the world. A study from the University of Groningen found that certain music influenced what test subjects saw—subjects identified or thought they identified smiley faces when listening to happy music and sad faces when listening to sad music, even when the happy or sad faces weren’t there. The music they were listening to affected how they perceived the things around them.
Listening to certain genres and song lyrics, as well as watching music videos, has been related to teens developing beliefs in negative and incorrect stereotypes and causing them to put an increased importance on someone’s physical appearance and lavish lifestyles, especially with teenage girls.
Teens are at a very influential age. So while a suggestive rap or rock song won’t necessarily drive them to bad behavior, certain music types have been linked with certain risky behaviors. Significant exposure to violent and immoral music can increase the risk of aggressive and immoral behavior and attitudes in adolescents, especially those who are already vulnerable.
Music also has an effect on teenagers’ social behavior. It can trigger or support anti-social behavior, but it can also help a teen be more confident when socializing with people their own age
Music has the power to reinforce negative or positive emotions in teens. It has the power to influence how teens perceive themselves and the world, as well as how they act on a daily basis. Listening to uplifting music, including LDS youth music, will have a positive influence on them—on their emotions, perception, and behavior—and will promote healthy values.