As more studies draw connections between music choices and teenage behaviour, parents find themselves in a quandary.
On this issue, who are we gonna believe: some highly trained people who sport PhDs and high IQs, and spend countless years on meticulous research, or Footloose (the 1984 original, not the 2011 crapfest)?
That movie told our generation that rock and roll was the great liberator for teens, their very own Fall of the Berlin Wall moment when oppression was out, toe tapping was in, and parents – particularly a Bible-thumping minister who condemned dancing – didn’t know what the hell they were talking about (and not just when it came to music, either).
Let rock roll, it preached. And the kids were alright.
Well, it turns out that we were just drinking the Hollywood Kool Aid. At least, according to Dr. Tom ter Bogt (sure to be played by Rutger Hauer in the movie of his life) of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. His study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is the first to scientifically state that music can be a predictor of teenage behaviour.
The conclusion: If your kid at age 12 likes loud, noisy, rebellious music, well, better start prepping for a future visit from the cops, because Junior is headed for minor delinquency at age 16.
Now, before you go rampaging through your kids’ playlists to determine whether the college fund will be more likely spent on bail, keep in mind that only certain types of “music” should set off alarm bells. Stuff like hip-hop, heavy metal and gothic.
If your 12-year-old instead prefers punk, techno or R&B, the study says you may be in for rocky teen years but maybe not (ah, the precision of science), so you don’t have to sleep with one eye open. And if your kids dig classical and jazz, you’re virtually home free – and likely to have your kid at home with you every weekend night since the party invites will never materialize.
If Dr. ter Bogt’s research sounds familiar, it may be because previous studies have also suggested that musical tastes are like tea leaves, revealing our futures.
If you like pop (the stuff that Justin Beiber spews, not the bottled kind, though both are far too sugary to enjoy in abundance), we learned, you are probably a conformist and struggle with peer acceptance. Metalheads are born shoplifters who will have unprotected sex (guess the pharmacies don’t have to safeguard the condoms from them, then) while jazz and R&B fans will be introverted misfits.
All this research emphasizes one clear point: some scientists have too much time on their hands.
Now, we’ll concede that musical tastes are undoubtedly an indicator of something – oftentimes, as in the case of rap or Barry Manilow fans, just bad judgement – but iTunes favourites are no guarantee of what’s to come in life.
Ren McCormack knew that when he took on the minister and transformed the town. The movie may have been a little footloose with reality, but at least it knew not to take itself too seriously.