Hearing loss is traditionally considered an older person’s issue – in fact, it’s estimated that almost 50% of people aged 75 and older copes with some kind of hearing loss. But despite the fact that in younger individuals it’s completely preventable, studies show that they too are in danger of experiencing hearing loss.
One study of 479 freshmen from three high schools revealed that 34% of those students showed signs of hearing loss. The cause? The idea is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And younger people are not the only ones at risk.
Why do individuals under 60 get hearing loss?
If other people can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everyone. If you listen to sounds louder than 85dB (around the volume of a vacuum cleaner) for extended time periods, your hearing can be damaged. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up to the max clocks in at around 106 decibels. In this scenario, damage starts to happen in under 4 minutes.
While this seems like common sense stuff, the reality is that kids spend well over two hours every day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged in. During this time, they’re listening to music, playing games, and watching video. And this will only increase over the next few years, if we’re to believe present research. The production of dopamine acts in a similar way to addictive drugs and studies have demonstrated that smartphones and other screens can trigger dopamine release. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more difficult to get them to put their screens down.
Young people are in danger of hearing loss
Regardless of age, hearing loss clearly presents a number of difficulties. Younger people, however, face additional problems with regards to academics, after-school sports, and even job prospects. Students with hearing loss face an especially difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. It also makes participating in sports much more difficult, since so much of sports involves listening to coaches and teammates giving directions and calling plays. Young adults and teenagers joining the workforce can experience unnecessary roadblocks due to hearing loss.
Hearing loss can also lead to social problems. Kids with damaged hearing have a harder time socializing with peers, which often leads to social and emotional issues that require therapy. 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, especially during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
How young people can prevent hearing loss
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes per day at 60% or less of the highest volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear them while sitting near them, you should have them lower the volume until you can’t hear it.
It also may be smart to switch back to over-the-ear style headphones and stop using earbuds. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds put inside of the ear canal can actually create 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Whatever you can do to limit your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will be helpful. You can’t control everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And you need to get a hearing exam for your child if you believe they might already be suffering from hearing loss.