Common Sense Media Q&A: Keeping Kids from Hearing Inappropriate Song Lyrics

Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media
Thu Apr 4, 8:29 PM UTC

Question: My 6-year-old loves music and can learn a song by just hearing it once. She's now realizing that it's not all Radio Disney out there. How do I prevent her from memorizing inappropriate song lyrics?

Answer: It's great that she loves music and it sounds like she has a gift. But the way kids discover music these days may lead her in directions you're not entirely comfortable with, for example to YouTube, which is one of the most popular music sources for kids.

It's best to focus on managing, not controlling, what she hears. Common Sense Media's music reviews will help you determine the age-appropriateness and content of a song, and these tips can help, too.

Meanwhile, stay involved to help reduce her exposure to music you don't want her to hear yet. (Use an app like MusicID with Lyrics to identify songs.) But don't stress about every age-inappropriate lyric... lots of times kids have no idea what they're singing about. If she asks what something means, ask her first what she thinks it means, and use her answer as a gauge for how much you need to fill in the blanks.

Your daughter is still young enough for you to pick a lot of her songs. Good sources are movie soundtracks, your old favorites, Disney stars, and adult bands making great music for kids. Maybe she'd like to try her hand at making her own music?

As she grows up, it's still important for you to stay involved, because kids are influenced by what they hear. You may not like all of her choices, but hang in there and talk about the songs, that'll help you to continue to pass along your values. Encourage her to play her music out loud, not just under cover of headphones. It may drive you to distraction, but at least you'll know what she's listening to.