For years, parents have bemoaned their teenagers’ bad habit of listening to music loudly- but did you ever realize the damage loud music can do to teens’ hearing? The rate of hearing loss among teens today is about 30% higher than it was in the 1980s and 1990s, and some experts attribute this to the increased use of headphones with teenagers (81% of teens listen to music with earphones).
While 46% of teens show potential signs of hearing loss (such as occasional ringing, roaring, buzzing, or pain in their ears) and one in six teens report that they experience hearing loss symptoms often or all of the time, only 8% of teens believe that hearing loss is a major health concern. As a parent, it’s your job to educate your teen about the dangers of hearing loss, starting with how hearing loss occurs. Hearing loss is caused by damage to hair-like cells in the inner ear, either through prolonged exposure to loud noise or an instantaneous extremely loud noise. What many teenagers don’t realize is that once these hair cells are damaged, they can’t be repaired or regrown, leading to future hearing loss as an adult.
Your teenager might be surprised to know that an MP3 player at full volume can cause as much noise as a loud rock concert. Since studies have shown that hearing loss can occur after as little as eight minutes of listening to music at a very loud volume, you should recommend that your teenager follow the 60/60 rule: listen to music for no more than 60 minutes at a time and at no more than 60% volume. Teens should also use headphones rather than ear buds; ear buds are more dangerous because they’re closer to the ear drum and filter less ambient noise, which may influence the user to turn up the volume in loud environments.
Your teenager probably doesn’t realize the potential future damage they’re doing to their eardrums, but with this information, you can help them prevent future hearing loss- and hopefully help them listen to you more often!