An estimated 50% of individuals 75 or over have some type of hearing loss and that’s why most people think of it as an issue for older people. But research reveals that younger individuals are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s completely preventable.
In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools exhibited symptoms of hearing loss. The cause? The concept is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And younger people aren’t the only ones at risk.
Why do people under 60 get hearing loss?
If others can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a basic rule for teenagers and everybody. If you listen to sounds above 85dB (about the volume of a vacuum cleaner) for extended periods of time, your hearing can be damaged. Most mobile devices can go well above 105dB. In this situation, damage starts to take place in less than 4 minutes.
It may seem like everybody would know this but teenagers frequently have their headphones in for hours at a time. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And this will only increase over the next few years, if we’re to believe current research. Studies show that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more challenging to get them to put down their devices.
Young people are in danger of hearing loss
Clearly, hearing loss creates numerous obstacles for anyone, regardless of age. Younger individuals, however, face additional issues with regards to academics, after-school activities, and even job possibilities. Students with hearing loss face a particularly 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 instructions and calling plays. Early hearing loss can have a detrimental impact on confidence as well, which puts unnecessary obstacles in front of teenagers and young adults who are getting into the workforce.
Social problems can also continue as a result of hearing loss. Kids frequently develop emotional and social problems which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. People who suffer with hearing loss often feel isolated and experience mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Treating hearing loss often needs to go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, particularly during the important 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 follow. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting near them, you should tell them to lower the volume until you can’t hear it.
You might also want to replace the earbuds and opt for the older style over-the-ear headphones. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds placed inside of the ear canal can actually create 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Generally, though, do what you can to limit your child’s exposure to loud sounds during the day. You can’t regulate everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home headphone-free. And you need to get a hearing exam for your child if you believe they may already be dealing with hearing loss.