An estimated 50% of individuals over the age of 75 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 people it’s totally preventable, research shows that they too are at risk of developing hearing loss.
One study of 479 freshmen across three high schools revealed that 34% of those students showed indications of hearing loss. The cause? The concept is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And everyone’s at risk.
Why do people under 60 get hearing loss?
There’s a simple rule relating to earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if someone else can hear your music, then the volume is too high. If you listen to sounds above 85dB (about the volume of a vacuum cleaner) for extended time periods, your hearing can be damaged. A normal mobile device with the volume turned all the way up is around 106 decibels. In this situation, damage begins to happen in less than 4 minutes.
It might seem as if everybody would know this but teenagers frequently have their headphones in for hours at a time. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And if the latest research is to be believed, this time will only increase over the next few years. The release of dopamine acts in a similar way to addictive drugs and research has demonstrated that smartphones and other screens can stimulate the release of dopamine. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes harder to get them to put down their devices.
The dangers of hearing loss in young people
Regardless of age, hearing loss clearly presents a number of obstacles. For younger people though, after school activities, sports, and job possibilities create additional challenges. Students with hearing loss face a really difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. It also makes playing sports much harder, since so much of sports involves listening to coaches and teammates giving instructions and calling plays. Young adults and teenagers entering the workforce can encounter unnecessary obstacles due to hearing loss.
Social issues can also continue as a result of hearing loss. Kids frequently develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Mental health problems are prevalent in individuals of all ages who have hearing loss because they frequently feel isolated and experience anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management frequently go together and this is especially true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.
How young people can prevent hearing loss
Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes per day and at a volume 60% of maximum or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to adhere to. Even at 60%, if other people can still hear the music, it needs to be turned down.
It also might be smart to change back to over-the-ear style headphones and stop using earbuds. Compared to traditional headphones, earbuds put inside of the ear canal can actually produce 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Generally, though, do what you can to reduce your child’s exposure to loud sounds during the day. You can’t control everything they do while at school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home headphone-free. And if you do think your child is experiencing hearing loss, you should have them assessed as soon as possible.