The role of music in the lives of adolescents and the use of music preferences as clues to the emotional and mental health of adolescents is reviewed from the Group on Science and Technology, American Medical Association, Chicago, IL. Between the 7th and 12th grades the average teenager listens to 10,500 hours of rock music. Unlike television viewing which is often subject to family discussion and parental control, music is largely uncensored. Music plays a large role in adolescent socialization, as an information source about sexuality and alternative lifestyles, and as an introduction to political topics via various concerts organized for political causes. It is an important symbol in the search for independence and autonomy. It may provide an outlet for personal troubles or conflicts with parents. Musical preferences may reflect different types of struggles that adolescents face as they make the transition to adulthood. Rock music has spawned many cultural accessories such as tee shirts and dress styles. There may be a causal link between school performance and music preference. A heavy involvement in rock music by low achievers may be an adaptive reaction to their failures as students and an expression of their alienation from school and the learning experience. Successful students exhibit a preference for mainstreamed music, less interest in punk and rock music, and less involvement in peer groups. Parent’s groups have characterized many rock lyrics as sexually explicit and violent, some even advocating suicide. Heavy metal music glorifies hatred, abuse, sexual deviancy, and occasionally satanism. An adult’s interpretation of rock lyrics might be entirely different from that of a teenager. Physicians can encourage parents to question their children about their interpretation of the music and what role it plays in their lives. The physician may also point out that so far there is no confirmation that this music has a deleterious effect on the behavior of adolescents. 
COMMENT. It is apparent that theories regarding the influence of music on the behavior of adolescents are mainly conjectural and unproven. An adverse effect of this music not mentioned in this article is the incidence of nerve deafness. The inattention to the environment caused by the wearing of earphones while walking to school or work or bicycling may also contribute to an increased incidence of traffic accidents and injuries.