Even the Young Should Think About This to Protect Their Hearing

Young woman not protecting her hearing in a loud subway.

An estimated 50% of people 75 or older have some type of hearing loss and that’s why most people think of it as an issue for older people. But studies show that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they’re losing their hearing despite the fact that it’s completely preventable.

One study of 479 freshmen across three high schools revealed that 34% of those students showed symptoms of hearing loss. What could be causing this? Researchers suspect that earbuds and headphones linked to mobile devices are contributing to the issue. And the young are not the only ones at risk.

Why do individuals under 60 get hearing loss?

There’s a basic rule relating to earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – if somebody else can hear your music, then the volume is too high. Damage to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. Most mobile devices can go well above 105dB. Utilized in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause damage.

While this sounds like common sense stuff, the truth is that kids spend well over two hours every day on their devices, frequently with their earphones or earbuds in. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And if current research is to be accepted, this time will only increase over the next several years. Research shows that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. It will be more and more difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer because of it.

Young people are in danger of hearing loss

Regardless of age, hearing loss obviously creates numerous difficulties. Younger individuals, however, face added issues regarding academics, after-school sports, and even job possibilities. Students with hearing loss face an especially difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. It also makes playing sports much more difficult, 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 obstacles in front of teenagers and young adults who are joining the workforce.

Social issues can also persist as a result of hearing loss. Kids frequently develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Individuals who suffer with hearing loss frequently 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.

Avoiding hearing loss when you’re young

Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes per day and at a volume 60% of max or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to adhere to. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear them while sitting near them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can no longer hear it.

You may also want to ditch the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds put directly in the ear can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.

In general, though, do what you can to limit your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout 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 free of headphones. And you should get a hearing test for your child if you believe they may already be suffering from hearing loss.



The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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