4 Surprising Ways Music Can Be Bad For You


1. Hearing Loss
While teenagers typically have always preferred to listen to their music of choice loudly, it appears that the recent advent of portable music devices is making it easier and easier than ever before for them to cause permanent damage to their hearing.

According to a recent study by McMaster’s Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour in Canada, a growing percentage of teens are engaging in “risky listening habits” which is significantly due to the growing trend of shutting out the outside world via blasting music loudly into earphones or from speakers. According to the research, one quarter of the 170 kids surveyed for the study were experiencing the symptoms of early-onset tinnitus, a chronic and unceasing ringing in the ears, that ordinarily doesn’t appear in adults until after the age of 50. Although tinnitus can be temporary, the type that is accompanied by sensitivity to loud noise, as reported by the kids in the study, is a sign of auditory nerve damage and therefore likely permanent hearing damage down the road.

2. Bringing Back Negative Memories
Music has this ability to trigger powerful emotions, often in conjunction with a memory, but sometimes not. This particular group was facilitated by myself and a licensed social worker (the primary group facilitator) and we were trained to be responsive to emotional situations like that as they emerge.

For many of us, we associate music with a particular event in life, the same way we naturally associate “Happy Birthday” with ageing another year older. Now, it’s becoming more popular to have those memories negatively impacted by music, whether you’ve experienced a bad break-up, lost a loved one or simply just missed out on your favourite artist playing in concert.

3. Creating Anxiety
Music is not a one-size-fits-all experience. While it is fairly uncommon, not everyone likes music. Shocking, right? In fact, most people typically have certain genres, songs, or artists on their personal “no listen” list, meaning they refuse to listen to music outside of their comfortable genre or sound. Hearing that song, artist, or genre—even in an open public space actually impact an individual so much that it can induce negative responses physiologically and/or emotionally, which usually comes in a degree of anxiety, varying from person to person.

In a clinical setting, music therapists are trained to be aware of responses that may indicate heightened anxiety, even in clients who are unable to speak for themselves. For example, consider a community of individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Although music can be a powerful elicitor of memories for them, the “wrong” music can have a different effect, causing anxiety and distress in one individual that could easily spread throughout the group.

4. Negatively Distracting An Individual From Working
In a brand new and terrifyingly sounding study conducted by the University of Wales, researchers examined the ability of subjects to recall information while being exposed to various sounds. In total, five different conditions were employed, which consisted of silence, music favoured by the subject, music the subject did not like, a voice repeating random numbers, and a voice repeating the number three. The results? The study concluded that subjects were found to have performed the most poorly when listening to music— literally any music, whether they liked it or not. They performed best in silence, and strangely enough, while listening to the repeated number three equally.

The authors speculated that the changing patterns of notes and phrases may negatively affect the ability to recall things in sequence, but curiously. Readers of a certain age may recall something called the “Mozart Effect,” a term which was originally coined by similar research in the 1990s, which suggested that some types of music can increase concentration. However, subsequent studies haven’t made anything out this conclusion.


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