An earful on explicit songs

This month, the Plugged-in Parent takes on a huge problem for parents with music-loving kids: Downloading and exposure to explicit material.

Q My son downloaded an explicit song onto his iPod. How can I get rid of it and prevent him from doing it again?

A Collecting and listening to downloaded music is a big part of kids’ lives today. iTunes has a corner on the market when it comes to supplying the songs, reaching its 10 billionth song download last February. (The song? “Guess Things Happen That Way” by Johnny Cash.)

Music appreciation is easy for parents to support. It can get a bit more complicated when it comes to the profane lyrics accessible to kids. Many parents find themselves managing their child’s exposure to explicit content on some level.

You can delete a song from your child’s iPod in a few ways. First, go to their iTunes library and select the song you want to delete. Then simply press the delete key on your computer or choose “Delete” from the “Edit” tab located along the top menu on your screen. Finally, sync your child’s iPod with the library and the song will be deleted from his iPod.

You can also delete the song from your child’s iPod without deleting it from the iTunes library. This comes in handy in homes sharing a library with family members of various ages and maturity levels.

To do this, connect your child’s iPod to the computer using a USB port. Then, find your child’s iPod under the “Devices” menu on the left side of the screen. Under his device, you’ll see a selection of categories. Choose the “Music” category, select the song you want to delete and press your computer’s “Delete” key. Remember to apply changes and sync the device before you disconnect his iPod.

Of course, deleting an offensive song is just part of the process, so follow up with these simple steps.

1 Talk about the content. Explain your objection to the content and why it’s marked explicit. Recognize that many children don’t understand the context of the songs they listen to-younger children may not even know the words. Not sure of the words yourself? and can help you better understand the content together.

2 Find substitutes. Many songs offer a “clean” version, where explicit lyrics have been replaced or deleted. Songs that have been cleaned up are marked in iTunes with a “clean” rating.

3 Explore parental tools. These can be handy, depending on your child’s maturity level. There is a Parental Control feature in iTunes under “Preferences” that can be set to block explicit songs and set rating restrictions on TV and movie downloads.

Restrictions can also be set on an iTouch or iPhone. You can find these options by choosing “Settings” on the device, then “General” and finally “Restrictions.” You need to provide a four-digit pass code before choosing which restrictions you want to manage.

One last note: iTunes has a policy about publishing profanity in music titles, so your child will not see explicit words spelled out by just browsing the iTunes store.

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