Music lyricsIf there is one truth about music lyrics across all genres, it’s that they’ve seen a dramatic change over the past several decades. Where once it may have been considered risqué to mention something a little off-color, today’s lyrics can be found to be incredibly explicit. They are filled with over-the-top references to drugs, violence, sex, and so much more to even include references to murder, suicide, and assault. It can seem like some lyrics are written purely for shock value. In these cases, it’s no longer about the quality of the music. This can have a marked impact on the impressionable mind of a teen. It can desensitize them to things that they should have more awareness about. It can also potentially normalize assault, domestic violence, drug use, and alcohol abuse. The content of some videos can also be designed purely for shock value. They are meant to elicit a response, and they often do. Musicians from all genres can post content on YouTube, and it is often the place teens find new music.
YouTube influencersInfluencers certainly aren’t unique to YouTube, but they tend to have more of a platform that allows them to connect with impressionable teens. Not all influencers bring a negative influence with them, of course. Some may share great information, help to educate, and resonate with teens positively. Others may stick strictly to content about gaming or travel and sports. This type of content will resonate with some teens and will generally not be anything to be overly concerned about. The concern comes from influencers who focus on content filled with profanity, are overly sexual, refer to violence against women, children, and animals, and encourage the use of drugs and alcohol. They may disguise it as content filled with humor and other features that will appeal to teens, but it can be quite violent and inappropriate. What is worse is that most of these YouTube influencers generate an income based on their content’s views. This, of course, compels them to produce content that is more shocking, more filled with the off-color language that gets the laugh, and that helps them to get more views.
Other concernsWhat should parents be concerned about if their teens are spending time on YouTube? The access to explicit content can certainly be a concern, as much of the content uploaded to YouTube is genuinely only appropriate for adult eyes. Off-color language, inappropriate lyrics, violence, and overtly sexualized behavior are just some of the issues. Other concerns may include:
- Cyberbullying in the comments section of YouTube videos.
- Related videos section. This is a helpful section but can often suggest inappropriate videos.
- Auto-play. It is also meant to be helpful, but it can lead teens down the path of spending hours on videos.
- Challenge videos. These often-viral videos can encourage teens to take part in harmful behaviors.
- Misleading information. YouTube can be bursting with fake news and other misinformation. Teens are more likely to turn to social media platforms and YouTube to learn more about what is going on in the world.
What steps can parents take?Short of blocking YouTube access, what can parents do to protect children and teens from the content on the platform?
- Review their watch history. Taking an active role in monitoring the music and videos teens are watching can help you understand what your teen is being exposed to.
- Have open and honest conversations with your teen about topics surrounding sexuality, sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, and behaviors towards others.
- Remind your teens that content on the internet is often created to get a response, whether good or bad, with the end goal being to generate an income.
- Establish boundaries for your teens about YouTube use. Let them know about the consequences of crossing those boundaries, up to and including losing access to their devices for some time.