An estimated 50% of individuals over the age of 75 have some form 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, studies show that they too are at risk of developing hearing loss.
In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools exhibited symptoms of hearing loss. What could be causing this? The thought is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the issue. And everyone’s at risk.
What causes hearing loss in individuals under 60?
If other people can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everyone. Harm to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds louder than 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume 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. Used in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause injury.
It may seem as if everybody would know this but teenagers often have their headphones in for hours at a time. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And this will only increase over the next several years, if we’re to believe present research. Research shows that smartphones and other screens activate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more difficult to get them to put down their devices.
Young people are at risk of hearing loss
Obviously, hearing loss presents numerous difficulties for anyone, regardless of age. Younger people, however, face added problems with regards to academics, after-school activities, and even job prospects. Students with hearing loss face an especially difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. Sports become especially hard if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving instructions. Young adults and teenagers joining the workforce can face unnecessary roadblocks caused by hearing loss.
Hearing loss can also lead to social issues. Kids frequently develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Individuals who cope with hearing loss often feel isolated and experience mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management frequently go together and this is particularly true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.
How young people can prevent hearing loss
The first rule to observe is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes per day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear them while sitting close to them, you should have them turn it down until you can no longer hear it.
You might also want to ditch the earbuds and opt for the older style over-the-ear headphones. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds placed inside of the ear canal can actually create 5 to 10 extra decibels.
In general, though, do what you can to reduce your child’s exposure to loud sounds during the day. Try to make their home time free of headphone use because you can’t regulate what they are doing when they’re not home. And you should get a hearing test for your child if you believe they may already be suffering from hearing loss.