The Effects of Music on Children3:51 PM
Music is said to play a big role in child development. The effect of music in a child may vary depending on what type of music they are listening to. While music generally provides positive effects, specific elements in a song may result to the opposite.
Benefits of Music in Children
There must be a reason why pregnant women are highly encouraged to expose the babies who are still in their wombs to music. Music such as the "Mozart Symphonies" is said to have a positive effect on child development. The type of music that provides benefit to children is believed to be that which is not so highly charged with emotion and rhythm.
Child psychologists have identified specific benefits of music to children in their developmental stages. These would include intelligence enhancement, better motor development and coordination, added emotional awareness, stress reduction, social skills development,and creativity enhancement. Scientific studies tend to support the idea that music is highly instrumental (pun not intended) in gaining quality and positive experiences for children.
Children who pursue musical education are given a distinct advantage over other children who do not. A musical performance allows children to conquer their fears and confidence to set in. Music is one of the highest forms of human expression.
Harmful Effects of Music in Children
Music generally promotes positive effects on children. However, there are specific elements in a song that can promote negative thoughts and feelings especially among adolescents who have more freedom to choose the music they will listen to compared to toddlers. Lyrics that contain profanity, and encouragement of violence and anti-social behavior may be too strong for developing and impressionable minds. Even the fierce beat of the music that comes with explicit sexual language or call for suicide, can create such an atmosphere that can serve as a call to action.
Psychologists are particularly mindful of the common practice of adolescents of listening to music via their earphones. Parents are usually not aware of the type of music their children are listening to especially if they don't hear them. It also creates an "enclosed world" for young minds who may not yet be emotionally and psychologically adept to rise above the influence.
Parents of today are given the challenge to prepare their children with the onslaught of negative materials provided in different forms of media. Prepare, not shield, because exposure to such materials cannot be totally avoided. Parents will not always be present to censor such materials thus it would be more appropriate to prepare children in anticipation of the high possibility that they will encounter these materials specifically outside the home.
Children must be taught how to rise above the obvious messages of self-degradation and sexual stereotyping. Young and impressionable minds will have to be guided to determine what needs to be filtered out in a song. The main challenge is doing this without necessarily "interfering" with a child's healthy development in having access to choices.
I recently got the shock of my life when I listened closely to a popular "pop" song which my youngest daughter has fancied liking. Her liking the song is not surprising given the very catchy beat and tempo which the young generation easily appreciate. However, she was mouthing the words which contained specific "adult language" with innocence very much like the way she does with nursery rhymes and children's songs.
In short, she was singing it because it was very popular even among her friends, classmates , and I guess all the other young girls of this generation. She considered the offensive words as simply part of a song lyrics and was not aware of their meaning. At a young age of 8, she was also asking me about suggestive movements done by performers on their music videos. She knew by instinct that something was "bad to see" the moment my husband or I will direct them to change the channel at once. The difficult part is explaining why something is "bad" when a song is packaged like a wholesome dance-able tune.
That said, it would appear that parental guidance is needed as well in music. In as much as parents cannot be around all the time, children will have to be taught to cope with and understand the current challenges faced by a growing child in relation to the music they listen to. Music has been a source of joy for generations not only among children but in adults as well. It has to be noted however, that there are varying effects of music in children, depending on what they are listening to.
Photo: Special thanks to Kleng Santos for allowing me to use this picture of her son, Kaeo.