Listening All Night Long!

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our 13-year-old son listens to his radio all night long.  My husband and I disagree about whether this is healthy or not — I wonder if our son is getting enough rest and if his brain doesn’t need a break!  Is this healthy?



Dear Karen,

When you say your son listens to his radio “all night long,” are you speaking literally or figuratively?  If he listens to his radio at bedtime and then falls asleep, I wouldn’t be overly concerned.  On the other hand, if he truly does listen “all night long,” you’re right—it’s not healthy and his brain does need a rest.

Young teens should be getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night.  Most don’t, and insufficient sleep can interfere with memory and learning, cause mood problems–even contribute to obesity!  You and your husband need to get on the same page and start setting some firm limits on the amount of time your son listens to music each day, and what time the radio goes off in the evening.

In addition to the sleep issue, if your son spends all of his free time after school and in the evening listening to music, his life is out of balance. He needs to be getting exercise, spending time outdoors, reading, developing meaningful friendships, and engaging in church and social activities.

Just as important as the amount of time he spends listening is the kind of music he’s listening to.   Much of today’s popular music features lyrics that are highly sexualized or that advocate violence.  Some groups are known for songs that emphasize dark, hopeless themes—even to the point of advocating suicide.

By the way, Focus on the Family’s Plugged In website and offers parents reviews of the latest music, helping them to make wise choices about the groups and lyrics they allow their children to listen to.

Thanks for writing Karen.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

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