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Music videos on the net

2 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
Symbolfoto: Das Logo des Online-Musikdienstes YouTube Music wird auf einem Smartphone angezeigt. Berlin, 09.09.2019. Copyright: Thomas Trutschel/ photothek.net

Internet platforms such as YouTube and TikTok offer children and young people a wide range of different music videos. This offers choice and participation in music from around the world. However, music videos can trigger misconceptions of role models among children and adolescents. So what do you need to pay attention to?

Music videos – then and now

In the 1970s, music videos were mainly used for promotional purposes and produced to introduce the singers performing the song. One of the first music videos was the promotion video for Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen from 1975. Today’s music videos not only show images that match the music. Many different stories are told in the clips. This can be about fashion, love, trends, cultural or socio-political topics. From rap, pop, funk, classical music or techno, everything is there. Through music videos, stories are conveyed in a variety of ways. Some music videos are shot with people who appear in the clips. Other videos are produced with computer technology and the characters are animated. There are also abstract clips in which no people are shown at all.

What fascinates children and young people about music videos?

Listening to music is one of the three most important and most frequently used media activities among children and young people. Youtube offers a wide selection of music and videos for this purpose. In the JIM study published in 2019, 63 percent of children and young people aged 12 to 19 say that YouTube is the most popular Internet service. The study also revealed that children and young people mainly stream music videos on the platform. Music videos can be the gateway to another world where children and young people have a wide choice of stories and representations of their favorite songs.

Conveying false role models

Children and young people often don’t notice how differently men and women are portrayed in different music videos. It is often the case that women are reduced to their bodies -their bodies become and in many settings you can’t even see the face. Men are shown in strong positions of power, especially in rap and hip-hop, and are portrayed as cool or aggressive. Children and young people do not consciously perceive this stereotypical representation of men and women in music videos. As a result, it can happen that it is perceived as normality and young people strive to become like their role models in the music videos and internalize these clichés.

What should parents pay attention to?

Take a closer look, too. Pay attention to the song lyrics and question what the music video is expressing. Talk to your child about music videos and ask what it likes about the clips. Have your child tell you what music they like to listen to and why. Talk about how music videos are a form of storytelling and talk to your kids about the possible stereotypes in music videos. Keep an open mind about your child’s music interests. Share with your child and do not ban music videos, because this often does not bring success and is also critical from an educational point of view. At the same time, especially for younger children, if music videos are the topic, you can check the parental control settings on the streaming portals and adjust them if necessary.

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