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Kids’ music playlists: What’s a parent to do?

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–While parents can turn to online filters to control the Internet activity of their children, many will find the screening of music downloads far more difficult.

Todd Stocker, in his book “Infinite Playlists” recently republished by Kregel, recalls Martin Luther’s conviction that music should be given a place of great honor “next after theology.” Stocker offers parents a guideline in deciding which music is “acceptable and healthy” and which is not, first addressing God’s purpose for music.

“Ultimately, my goal is to help foster healthy conversations between you and your child — conversations about music, honoring God, and the importance of correct decisions when it comes to music and media,” he writes.

Unlike many books and websites that promote specific artists, bands, songs or genres of music, Stocker merely uses these as examples in making his points about the effects of music. The issue became personal to Stocker when his 13-year-old son wandered into a Virgin Records store while on vacation with Stocker’s parents, and then called to ask for counsel.

“I was expecting him to ask me my preference between Audio Adrenaline and Relient K (two very cool Christian bands) so I said, ‘Let me guess; you want to know if you can get a CD,'” Stocker recalls.

“Yes!” the boy answered. “Which is better? Van Halen or Def Leppard?”

First asking how he could have raised such a rebel, Stocker eventually realized the need for a discussion on music choices, forming the basis for the book he eventually wrote.

In underscoring the power of music, Stocker cites a study reported in Pediatrics magazine which found that 12- to 17-year-olds who listen to music with degrading sexual lyrics were more likely to engage in sexual activity than those who listen to music that simply deals with about love and romance.

While television, movies and printed media have their share of objectionable content, the study revealed that sexual content is much more prevalent in popular music lyrics than in any other medium, according to the 2006 report.

“God has designed music to be a spokesperson for our emotions. Phrasing, melody, rhythm, and beat all contribute to the emotional impact of a song,” Stocker writes. He cites Saul’s request from 1 Samuel 16 that David play his harp to soothe his tormented soul after disobeying God.

Stocker also addresses the emotional, physical and spiritual effects of lyrics, rhythm and context of a song; genres of music; and the difference between Christian and secular music.

“You would never allow your children to drink gasoline even if it was their choice to do so,” Stocker reminds. “Neither should you let your children drink music that could cripple them forever.”

At the same time, he insists that parents help their children know the reason behind such decisions, offering a series of common-sense and biblically based questions that go beyond “because I said so.”
Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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