I was inspired to write this post after one of my blog’s regular readers contacted me privately. I was asked whether I had an opinion on age appropriate music for children. The short answer is yes, I do, although I don’t think it’s a black and white issue.
Like many families with young children, we are presently in the midst of a Frozen phase. My wife recently bought a CD of the soundtrack to keep our two daughters entertained while driving up to Scotland. It was a huge hit. Toddler Adams now associates driving with the Soundtrack and every time she’s placed in her car seat she demands “Go” be placed on the stereo (that’s toddler shorthand for the song Let it Go).
There have been two unexpected benefits to allowing this irritatingly catchy music into our lives. Firstly, Helen, our eldest daughter, will happily sit down with the the CD liner notes so she can read the words and sing them. Result; she’s getting to practice her reading skills. As the kids also want to listen to the soundtrack in the house, Mrs Adams, whose IT skills aren’t always the best, has learned how to use Spotify.
Both kids love the music, they’re dancing, singing and in the case of Helen, practicing her reading skills. Mrs Adams, meanwhile, has familiarised herself with technology she hadn’t previously used. It strikes me the Frozen soundtrack is appropriate for people of all ages!
On the subject of Frozen, if I had a son, I’d be telling him to be very wary of any woman that demanded to be “taken up North Mountain” shortly after meeting her. The writers were definitely having fun when they inserted that little nugget into the Frozen script (apologies if you’ve never seen the film and have no idea what I’m on about. Suffice it to say the schoolboy in me finds that particular scene hilarious).
It goes without saying the issues arise when children listen to music not intended for them. I know of a dad that has banned MTV in his household having discovered his pre-school aged daughter copying sexually charged dance moves she’d seen on the small screen.
Word of advice to anyone reading this; do not ever, ever play the talentless Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines in the presence of my children. I’m really not a prude but the lyrics to that so-called song make me wince. If you want to listen to that rubbish, fine, please do, but do not introduce my children to it.
Who hasn’t been to a kids party that’s featured Psy’s Gangnam style? Is the chorus line of “Hey sexy lady” appropriate for young kids? With two daughters, the one concern I had was the message it sent them about being women. Then again, you can take these things too far. It required a “sexy lady” for the two of them to come into this world. Sticking this on Spotify will keep them entertained for ages as they dance round the living room so I have made my peace with this terrible example of electro pop. Just don’t expect me to copy the dance.
As I write this, another example springs to mind. A short while ago I was playing a Queen CD on the car stereo. It was a live show and Freddie Mercury was encouraging the audience to sing along to the chorus of a song and sing some scales. At the end he said; “You buggers can sing higher than I can.”
You can probably imagine what happened next. A little voice piped up from the back seat; “Daddy he said buggers. What does buggers mean?”
That, my friends, is a very awkward word to explain to a young child. I simply told her it was a swear word and that she mustn’t say it, especially at school. At this she told me about one of her classmates who has apparently been heard using coarser language at school.
In answer to the question I was originally asked, I don’t think there are hard and fast rules. You can’t go too far wrong listening to music made intentionally for children. The problem being it’s just so dull. On the other hand, you have to select adult music carefully.
What’s your opinion, do you police the music your children listen to? Am I a philistine for failing to recognise the cultural benefits Psy and Robin Thicke have bought to the world? Do you let your children watch MTV?
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