Hearing loss is typically considered an older person’s problem – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people over 75 copes with some type of hearing loss. 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 totally avoidable.
In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools showed symptoms of hearing loss. What could be causing this? The thought is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And the young are not 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 general rule for teenagers and everyone. Harm to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds louder than 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended time period. The majority of mobile devices can go well above 105dB. In this situation, damage starts to occur in less than 4 minutes.
It may seem as if everyone would know this but teenagers frequently have their headphones in for hours at a time. They’re playing games, watching footage, 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. The production of dopamine acts in a similar way to addictive drugs and research has demonstrated that smartphones and other screens can activate the release of dopamine. It will become more and more difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing might suffer because of it.
Young people are in danger of hearing loss
Clearly, hearing loss presents multiple difficulties for anybody, regardless of age. Younger individuals, however, face added issues with regards to academics, after-school sports, and even job possibilities. Students with hearing loss face an especially difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts. Sports become especially difficult if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving instructions. Young adults and teenagers joining the workforce can experience unnecessary roadblocks due to hearing loss.
Hearing loss can also cause social problems. Kids often develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. People who suffer with hearing loss frequently feel isolated and experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management frequently go together and this is particularly true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.
Preventing hearing loss when you’re young
Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes a day and at a volume 60% of maximum 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 close to them, you should have them turn it down until you can no longer hear it.
You might also want to replace the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds put directly into the ear can actually produce 6 to 9 extra decibels when compared to traditional headphones.
Generally, though, do what you can to limit your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. Try to make their home time free of headphone use because you can’t control what they are doing while they’re not home. And you should get a hearing assessment for your child if you believe they may already be suffering from hearing loss.