Drug-Drenched Lyrics No Music to Parents' Ears

"One would hypothesize that when substance use is depicted by acceptance and sex adolescents would internalize that and think that substance abuse is an important way of getting those things," said Primack. "We think that the more positive portrayal of substance abuse, the more likely that will translate into behavioral changes."

"Lyrics with these references are a type of advertising for drugs and drug use," said Merlo. "First of all, there is a positive portrayal of the substance, either linking it to financial success, social acceptance or sexual desirability. Secondly, it is presented in a memorable form. Songs function in the same manner as a jingle you might find in commercials."

Should Parents Play DJ?

However, the researchers said that parents should not be overly alarmed. Fischoff explained that there is no direct link between listening to music and doing drugs. Rather, the company a teen keeps could be much more important.

"The big variable in whether or not an adolescent decides to do drugs is his or her peer group," Fischoff explained. "Children are trying to find their identity, they are less certain than adults about who they are. Peer group acceptance is extremely important. Once the group starts doing drugs, everyone has to do drugs to stay in the group."

However, there are usually one or two leaders in the group who become the role models and it's entirely possible that drug use in popular songs may cause these leaders to try the substances, he said.

"Popular songs do provide a climate of what's cool for that peer group," Fischoff said. "If the leaders get the idea from the media that drugs are cool, others in the groups will follow their behavior."

If there is any take-home message for parents, it's to be aware of what their children are listening to -- and if necessary, to intervene.

Carl said that he and his wife block certain channels on their digital radio service, and when their daughters were younger they would screen their daughters' mp3 players, deleting songs that they found objectionable.

"I think parents need to be involved in what their children listen to," he said.

Dan Childs contributed to this report.

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