An estimated 50% of individuals 75 or older 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 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 signs of hearing loss. The cause? The concept is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the issue. And the young aren’t the only ones at risk.
What causes hearing loss in people under 60?
If others can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everybody. Harm to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds louder than 85 decibels – which is about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at about 106 decibels. Used in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause injury.
It might seem like 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 if the latest research is to be accepted, this time will only increase over the next few years. 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 harder to get them to put down their devices.
Young people are at risk of hearing loss
Clearly, hearing loss creates numerous challenges for anybody, regardless of age. Younger individuals, 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 comprehending concepts. It also makes playing sports much harder, since so much of sports involves listening to coaches and teammates giving instructions and calling plays. Early hearing loss can have a negative effect on confidence as well, which puts unwanted roadblocks in the way of teenagers and young adults who are getting into the workforce.
Social problems can also continue due to hearing loss. Kids often develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. People who suffer with hearing loss often feel isolated and experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Managing hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, particularly during the crucial developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
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 highest volume. Even at 60%, if others can still hear the music, it needs to be turned down.
It also might be smart to switch back to over-the-ear style headphones and quit using earbuds. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds placed inside of the ear canal can actually create 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Whatever you can do to reduce your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will help. You can’t regulate everything they do while at school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And if you do believe your child is dealing with hearing loss, you should have them evaluated as soon as possible.