The media influence on our children is being questioned in regards to criminal behaviors. Do they get their ideas to harm or kill from music, video games or music? Research suggests it’s possible, albeit through indirect means.
Gathering empirical evidence from past studies on music may give clues to this theory.
Scientists claim rock music triggers primal instincts in our children. The instincts from the pitch and frequency of rock music resemble the distress calls of animals, triggering an emotional response.
Music that shares these characteristics of animals crying in distressed grabs our primal attention, as in the ‘heightened alert’ feeling. Think of the eerie background sounds in horror movies; just listening to that music can make your skin crawl. Knowing this, we can agree that distressed vocal calls (as in rock music) can raise our heart rates. Hence, music does have a biological effect on humans.
Furthermore, researchers found children who prefer rock, goth and punk music at an early age were more prone to delinquent behaviors when they got older. The delinquent behaviors studied were smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. The findings suggest a prediction can be made from the choice (of music) to the resulting behaviors. Apparently, music appears to predict or influence risky behaviors in children.
Combine both studies and we can ascertain that music does have a biological effect and can influence behaviors in children. But we knew that already. Sad music can make us sad, upbeat music gets us upbeat and dance music can make our bodies keep rhythm.
But does this music preference ‘create’ a killer?
The research does not imply or insinuate this. The research only proves the emotional upset and risky behaviors that may or may not lead to homicidal thoughts/actions.
The other external factors in question are violent video games and movies. These may play a part in negative thoughts, but it is the music that sets the initial mood within the child. The video games may desensitize violent behaviors by virtual experience, while movies may give a ‘normal’ tone to criminal intent.
These factors may be a correlation, not a causation. The thoughts must have been in the mind before any influence can happen.
In other words, while video games and movies may ‘trigger’ killer thoughts, the potential to have these types of thoughts was there already. Also, while music may influence negative moods (which may lead to homicidal/suicidal ideations), the negative moods are pre-determined by how well a child learns coping skills.
Positive environmental influences can have more of an impact on a child’s behavior than media exposure. Talking to your children about the lyrics of chosen music and discussing how it makes them feel may guide them to a healthier way of rationalizing their inner thoughts. These parental engagements can over-ride the criminal tendencies.
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Kids Preferring Rock, Punk More Likely to Suffer from Delinquency later
Early Adolescent Music Preferences and Minor Delinquency
How Rock ‘N’ Roll Involuntarily Triggers Our Primal Instincts and “Brings Out the Animal in Us”