The Negative Effects of Music Videos on our Children


Several studies indicate a correlation between music videos and violent behavior of adolescents. The findings also show a connection between the imagery displayed in the videos and inappropriate sexual attitudes and conduct. The lyrics tend to have a significant corrupting influence on the youth. Particular genres such as hip-hop, gangsta rap and heavy metal are found to be more damaging to children than the rest. The racial attitudes and interpersonal relations of teenagers can be influenced by the music they watch.


Music Videos have defined contemporary culture the last 50 years. The mass appeal of the art form brings with it both advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, it inspires, entertains and stimulates, while on the flip side it can inculcate unsavory behaviors and attitude among the youth. The young viewer must show caution in choosing the beneficial ones from the lot.

The majority of music video fans are teenagers and young adults, who are at an impressionable period of their lives. The youngsters can turn out to be anti-social if they idolize their attractive music stars, whose life-style is regarded as “extreme” and “on the edge”. To be fair, most role models are beneficial. The youth need a little bit of discretion in ignoring that minority of “stars”, who are more notorious than famous. If such discretion is not exercised the anti-social behavior exhibited by the stars tends to get treated as the norm, which can have severe consequences in the personal lives of the followers. The violence acted out will be perceived as heroic. What is required is a more realistic portrayal of violence, which will show how ugly and undesirable aggression is and will serve to thwart similar behavior in the viewers.

Music is an essential part of growing up and helps shape one’s personality. Unfortunately, this aspect has been used by television networks to manipulate the youth into believing certain cultural and gender stereotypes.

Violence and the Music Video:

The later part of the 20th century had seen a disturbing development. The greatest threat to the health of American adolescents in recent decades is violence induced injuries and death. During the 1990’s, nearly 70% of all teenage deaths are a result of violence – accidents, manslaughter, homicides, etc. In 1994 in particular 357,000 teenagers were assaulted badly enough so as to require emergency medical treatment. A further 3569 of them eventually succumbed to their injuries. Adding to the alarm, the number of juvenile arrests for violent crimes during the year was recorded at 150,000 that included 6000 rapes and 85,300 aggravated assaults. The years following 1994 had seen similar statistics. Research also reveals a strong correlation between previous exposure to violence and aggressive behaviors in adolescents. It is in this context that the relation between violence and the music video scrutinized. (Rich, Woods, et. al. 1998)

A big chunk of adolescent television viewing is taken by music videos and there is a reason – it captures the young viewer’s attention by powerfully engaging their emotions. For example, teenagers form nearly three fourths of MTV viewer-ship and they spend, on average, 6 hrs a week watching the channel. As much as 22% of the programming contained depictions of violence. Of these videos 63% of the violent acts are performed by young adults. This strong relation between media violence and real-life violence raises some serious concerns about the effects they have on the perceptions of adolescents as to what is normally safe and how to secure it. (Rich, Woods, et. al. 1998)

Effects on Interpersonal Relations:

Music has long been associated romantic love – an elevating feeling no doubt. But alongside the agreeable, there has also been a steady output of music with questionable effects on male-female relationships. Teenagers’ approach to conflict resolution is potentially vulnerable to the impact of music video depictions. Taking this threat into account, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, among other medical organizations, have started advising health care professionals to inform their patients that media exposure is a risk factor for general well-being. (Rich, Woods, et. al. 1998)

If the sheer volume of violence in music videos is not bad enough the manner in which it is portrayed undermines interpersonal relationships and hence regarded as critical factors in children’s health and risk behaviors. In trying to address this issue, the counselors, school authorities and the public representatives must also take into account “the potent messages and role models in music videos and other mass media.” (Rich, Woods, et. al. 1998)

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