You bought that iPod for your kids, but now what do you put on it? Better to curate a selection of music rather than let your 8-year-old run rampant with an iTunes giftcard and end up with a player full of death metal and ultra-sexy pop songs.
Let us help a little bit by recommending a few full albums and a lot of individual songs (some artists hop from clean to dirty in just two moves) with subject matter appropriate for different ages. We went mostly with new pop music, but a lot of oldies, rock music and music made specifically for kids is good, too.
Age 6 or younger
Try this: Disney movie soundtracks. They're probably already playing in your house, but they're fun and good for young kids.
Avoid this: Most any pop music might bring up things you're not ready to explain to a 6-year-old.
Other recommendations: SpongeBob, the Muppets, classical music
Age 7 to 8
Try this: Justin Bieber's “All Around the World,” which is about how around the world “people are no different than us.” It's also pretty fun to dance to.
Avoid this: Bieber's “Boyfriend” might be a little heavy on relationship talk unless you want your 7-year-old talking about boyfriends.
Other recommendations: “Best Song Ever” by One Direction, “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker
Age 8 or 9
Try this: Katy Perry's “Roar,” an empowering, fierce song that's also a pretty good time. We could listen to it on repeat.
Avoid this: Perry's “California Gurls.” We'd even avoid the KidzBop version, which doesn't censor out all the innuendo.
Other recommendations: “Counting Stars” by One Republic, “Atlas” by Coldplay, “Survival” by Muse, “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction
Age 10 to 12
Try this: “Everything Has Changed” by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran is a pretty romantic love story and a good song, too.
Avoid this: Britney Spears' “Work B**ch,” which has a positive message and a catchy chorus but (rather obviously) some racy language. Or “Stay the Night” by Zedd and Hayley Williams. The song's about having a one-night stand.
Other recommendations: “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire, “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry, “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus
Try this: The album “Pure Heroine” by Lorde. The 16-year-old singer is behind the track “Royals,” which decries the excess and sex in a lot of pop music.
Avoid this: “Timber” by Pitbull and Ke$ha. Fun beat and the hook sounds innocuous, but it's all about sex and drinking.
Other recommendations: “I Want Crazy” by Hunter Hayes, Daft Punk's album “Random Access Memories,” “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons