“If music be the food of love, play on” – Famous words by William Shakespeare strum “major” chords in South Africa’s younger generation as they listen under the influence of popular musical acts today. As the ever-growing belly of South Africa’s future develops, the world watches as substance abuse and drugs, through the impact of the media, act as the fundamental tools for a life-threatening nationwide-abortion. The music industry has always been linked to med’s, booze and outrages parties, but these connotations have been glorified and sensationalised inappropriately, encouraging fans to explore these law breaking, detrimental forms of a temporary high.  Internationally-worshipped names such as Lil’ Wayne, Rihanna and Wiz Khalifa headline the mainstream gang of artists who have most recently been promoting rebellious behaviour. With technology and the internet being more accessible than ever, a techno-driven youth, constantly fed with the ideology of “Rockstar-living,” is highly at risk. According to The Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, children in the U.S., a few years ago, listened to 2.5hours of music per day – by now, I’m sure that figure has increased. What are your children really listening to, the pure vibrations of musical arrangement or the influence of the world, slowly altering the next drug-related decision they’ll make?

In a technologically generated world, the media is a hub for all things new, exciting and trending. It’s a place where the real world is cropped and retouched to hide the secrets, truths and realities of the world around us. In the music industry of late, musical pioneers have collaborated with two well-known, timeless performers, “drugs” and “alcohol.” There was an era in musical history where drugs was highlighted and then banned. All was looking good up until its recent relapse. The issue revolves around a mixture of too many smoke scenes in music videos and a lack of constructive and creative content – but in the end, this really doesn’t matter. The youth of today don’t seem to see the demoralisation of societal structures, due to the distraction of catchy tunes and over-sung melodies blurring the distinction between “normality” and “wake up – this is something we should seriously be aware of.” If only we had a musician who would be bold enough to take the “hero” out of “heroin,” then we could all fly high…the superman way.   Since the successful 2001 debut of the iPod, Apple’s first-ever released portable music device, electronic companies around the world have launched more evolved yet similar products which accomplish the same purpose but with a lower price tag. In the last 10 years, more music devices have transformed into multi-media houses that are now able to browse the internet, capture images, record videos and for later models, are even “app-compatible.” This device, among cell phones and laptops, play a large role in a child’s life, giving them the freedom to control what they want to listen to. However, this may not always be a wise idea; what may be good for the music industry may not be as beneficial for your child.

The Facebook generation are so technologically dependent as they need it in almost all spheres of their lives, be it socially (networking), physically (WII Nintendo games), mentally (internet, school work) or even just for general interaction. It’s not uncommon in the 21st century, to see a variety of age-groups carrying and using cell phones every day; in fact, according to Market Tree, there were 10.2 million adults who possess cell phones in South Africa (33%) between 2003 and 2009. The access children have to cell phones and other modes of technology ring bittersweet tones for most parents – it does make life more convenient and safer for both the child and the parent, as they can keep each other in the loop; but it also makes one’s child more vulnerable to negative and harmful mediums that do not ask for parental guidance. Websites like “Youtube,” “Facebook” and “Twitter” keep the public in the know about the world around them. As smart and accessible as these sites may be, they could have too great of an influence on your child’s life.

Lil Wayne, a prominent figure in the Hip Hop industry, is known for his battle with drugs and alcohol. The “How to love” performer has been quoted saying, “Drugs are bad I’m acknowledging that but when I’m on the drugs I don’t have a problem with that”. International song bird, Rihanna recently released her 6th studio album, “Talk that Talk.” The cover art of the album featured a stoned Rihanna with smoke blowing out from her mouth. Since when did drugs become glamorous enough to grace album covers? Madonna’s latest release which is also her 12th studio album is entitled MDNA, not only linked to an abbreviated name of the controversial star, but also linked to the actual drug which causes illusions and imaginary imagery, almost like ecstasy.

The effects of drug abuse can be fatal as seen by the members of the “27 Club,” a music industry conspiracy, listing all the legendary musicians who have died at the age of 27 by the cause of drugs. Most recently to join this list was pop/jazz singer, Amy Winehouse. The negative effects of drugs and alcohol within the industry is never spoken about until it’s too late. In February 2012, Whitney Houston was found dead. The cause of death is to believe to have been drugs.

With all these subliminal messages infiltrating the minds of our youth, can we really blame them for being curious about the nature of drugs? Just like Twitter or Facebook, weed has become a networking social-norm among most university students, creating a buzz when there’s nothing to do. In order for a child not to be shaken by the storms of the media, values and moral codes need to be implemented as a daily practise. Children need to learn to be secure within their own identity. It is also up to the leaders of our country to take a stand and encourage more positive music in the industry.

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