An estimated 50% of individuals 75 or over have some level of hearing loss and that’s why most people think of it as an issue for older people. But research reveals that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s entirely avoidable.
As a matter of fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools exhibited signs of hearing loss. The cause? The concept is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And everyone’s at risk.
Why do individuals under 60 experience hearing loss?
If other people 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 approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. The majority of mobile devices can go well above 105dB. In this scenario, damage begins to take place in under 4 minutes.
While this seems like common sense stuff, the reality is that kids spend upwards of two hours a day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds in. 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 current research. Research shows that smartphones and other screens activate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. It will become harder and harder to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer because of it.
The dangers of hearing loss in young people
Clearly, hearing loss creates numerous obstacles for anybody, regardless of age. For younger individuals though, after school activities, sports, and job prospects produce additional difficulties. Hearing loss at a young age leads to problems with paying attention and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. Sports become especially hard if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving directions. Young adults and teenagers entering the workforce can face unnecessary obstacles due to hearing loss.
Social problems can also persist as a result of hearing loss. Kids with damaged hearing have a harder time connecting with peers, which frequently causes social and emotional issues that require therapy. People who cope with hearing loss frequently feel isolated and experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go together and this is especially true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.
How young people can avoid hearing loss
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 follow. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting close to them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it.
You might also want to replace the earbuds and opt for the older style over-the-ear headphones. Compared to traditional headphones, earbuds placed 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 help. Try to make their home time free of headphone use because you can’t control what they’re doing when they’re not home. And you should get a hearing exam for your child if you think they may already be dealing with hearing loss.