An estimated 50% of people 75 or over have some level of hearing loss and that’s why most people consider it a problem for older people. But in spite of the fact that in younger individuals it’s entirely preventable, research shows that they too are in danger of experiencing hearing loss.
One study of 479 freshmen from three high schools found that 34% of those students showed indications of hearing loss. What could be causing this? The idea is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And everyone’s at risk.
Why do individuals under 60 experience hearing loss?
There’s a simple rule relating to earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – if somebody else can hear your music, then it’s too loud. Harm to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds louder than 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended time period. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at around 106 decibels. Utilized in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause injury.
While this seems like common sense stuff, the reality is that kids spend well over two hours a day on their devices, frequently with their earphones or earbuds in. During this time, they’re enjoying music, playing games, and watching video. And if current research is to be accepted, this time will only get longer over the next several years. Research shows that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. It will be more and more difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing could suffer because of it.
Young people are in danger of hearing loss
Obviously, hearing loss creates multiple challenges for anybody, regardless of age. Younger individuals, however, face additional issues with regards to academics, after-school activities, and even job prospects. Hearing loss at a young age leads to issues with paying attention and comprehending concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. Sports become especially difficult if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving directions. Young adults and teenagers joining the workforce can face unnecessary obstacles caused by hearing loss.
Hearing loss can also result in social issues. Kids frequently develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Mental health problems are common in individuals of all ages who suffer from hearing loss because they often feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go together and this is particularly true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.
How young people can avoid hearing loss
The first rule to observe is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. Even at 60%, if other people can still hear the sound, it needs to be turned down.
You might also want to ditch the earbuds and opt for the older style over-the-ear headphones. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds put inside of the ear canal can actually produce 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Whatever you can do to limit your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will be helpful. Try to make their home time free of headphone use because you can’t control what they are doing while they’re not home. And if you do suspect your child is dealing with hearing loss, you should have them examined as soon as possible.