Do you ever have that moment where your favorite song from childhood comes on the radio and you just start belting out the lyrics…then you slowly realize what your are saying…then the mortification comes that you were singing “you shook me all night long” when you were under the age of ten? We got the scoop on today’s teen music scene from national radio personality Pavlina Ostra. Only 14-years-old, Pavlina has interviewed over 200 celebrities on location from top musicians to sports icons and current politicians. She is wise beyond her years. But, don’t be fooled, she is totally in the game when it comes to music. You will be surprised at how she feels towards today’s hip-hop and what you would find on her iPod. So, we reversed the roles at Skinny Mom and put Pavlina in the hotseat. Read on to find out how to handle your kids’ music preference straight from the kid herself!
1. Should parents be worried about what their kids listen to? Kids listen to a lot of music but most of it is whatever is popular at the time. I don’t know too many kids who keep the same artist as a favorite- unless that artist stays successful through the years. Last year, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga were the biggest singers at my school. This year is was LMFAO and One Direction. Kids know the words to all the songs and download their ringtones on their iPhones. Some songs just really aren’t something that kids should be listening to all the time. I think parents need to have their kids check out country, folk, reggae and not just club music that seems to be the most popular. So I don’t think they should be worried, but I think they should try to have different genres of music around them.
2. When a child says that they don’t even listen to the lyrics, could he or she still be impacted by the content of the song? Kids listen to the words – trust me on that. Maybe not on every song – they sort of just go with the tune of it. But if it’s a popular song – like Snoop Dogg’s “Young, Wild and Free” or LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I know It”, [they know the words]. I don’t think there was a kid in my school who didn’t sing along and know every word to those songs. And I think they can be impacted because it’s all made to look cool and what people are supposed to be or do. So maybe parents can’t isolate their kids, but maybe explain to them not to buy into the social acceptance and check out some other styles of music.
3. What are some types of music that parents should be concerned about their child listening to? I don’t think any music is really bad but sometimes artists can take it to the extreme. They don’t need to – I mean they know half their song is going to be bleeped out on a radio station – so why do it? But usually, the type of music that gets more verbal toughness in the lyrics is hip hop. Some is perfectly okay, but hip hop is overall something that has warning labels on the covers and kids listening to that is not good.
4. How can parents be proactive about what their child listens to? I talk to a lot of famous musicians and just about all of them remember listening to what their mom or dad listened to. Kids don’t have to fall into whatever style is popular at the moment – with music or anything else. If the mom has country music playing on the way to school or dad has Bruce Springstein playing while fixing something in the garage…kids pick this up. They can be attached to the Beatles just as much to Eminem if parents have it around them while growing up. And if parents have waited too long and just notice a problem then I’d probably say, sit down and find out why they like that music and make a deal with them about listening to other styles of music during their listening time. If they want to play music – do you know one of the places most famous musicians and singers started? Take a guess! Church. Yep, because most of the artists didn’t have any money growing up and it was their church where their musical chops got practice and stage time! Plus the congregations were super supportive when it came time for the singer/musician to take that big trip to LA or Nashville or NYC. Finding out why they like particular music should be a sit down talk with your kid – that along with having various music around the home and in the car is definitely proactive.
I like music with a message, whether it’s folk, southern rock or a top forty song, but that’s because I’ve interviewed a lot of the artists that have those songs. Kids are unsure of themselves and even unsure with their music and a [parent] that can talk about their own music and why songs are important to them is going to shine a totally different light on the music for kids. You may think – wow, my kid isn’t going to listen, but say you listened to Neil Sedaka growing up but your 5 year old doesn’t know who he is, right? Well, Neil Sedaka has a book w/CD out called, “Waking Up Is Hard to Do” Yep, it’s a take off of his famous song, “Breaking up is Hard to Do”. Older kids that are into environment and recycling then they should look into Jack Johnson (who has a huge amount of non-profit surf organizations and reusable water bottle programs on his tour and website) or check out The Avett Brothers and their “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise”.
If you expose your kids to different music than I think they will be happier to have different styles around them and they will also feel more confident with themselves and parents will feel less likely concerned about kids listening to bad music.
So take a minute and relax before running up stairs and turning off Chris Brown’s new single. Take a breath and a chance to build the bridge from your music to your kids’. You never know, a concert may just be in your future…and a new t-shirt for the collection.
Check out some more sage advice and great interviews at Pavlina’s Youtube channel!