An estimated 50% of individuals 75 or older have some type of hearing loss and that’s why most people consider it an issue for older people. But in spite of the fact that in younger people it’s completely preventable, studies show that they too are at risk of experiencing hearing loss.
In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools demonstrated signs of hearing loss. The cause? Researchers believe that earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices are contributing to the issue. And younger people are not the only ones at risk.
What causes hearing loss in people under 60?
There’s a basic rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if somebody else can hear your music, then the volume is too high. If you listen to sounds louder than 85dB (around 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 scenario, damage starts to happen in under 4 minutes.
While this sounds like common sense stuff, the reality is that kids spend well over two hours a day on their devices, frequently with their earphones or earbuds in. They’re playing games, watching footage, or listening to music during this time. And this will only increase over the next several years, if we’re to believe present research. Studies show that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same response caused by addictive drugs. 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 obviously creates a number of obstacles. Younger individuals, however, face additional problems with regards to academics, after-school activities, and even job prospects. Students with hearing loss face a particularly difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts. 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 experience unnecessary obstacles caused by hearing loss.
Social problems can also persist 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 frequently 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, especially 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 a day and at a volume 60% of maximum or less (the 60/60 rule) is the first rule to observe. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear them while sitting close to them, you should tell them to lower the volume until you can no longer hear it.
It also may be smart to switch back to over-the-ear style headphones and quit using earbuds. Compared to traditional headphones, earbuds put inside of the ear canal can actually produce 5 to 10 extra decibels.
Whatever you can do to minimize 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 regulate what they are doing while they’re not home. And you should get a hearing examination for your child if you believe they may already be dealing with hearing loss.