Even the Young Need to Think About This to Protect Their Hearing

Young woman not protecting her hearing in a loud subway.

Hearing loss is typically considered an older person’s issue – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people over 75 suffer from some type of hearing loss. But research reveals that younger individuals are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they’re losing their hearing despite the fact that it’s entirely preventable.

In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools showed symptoms of hearing loss. What could be causing this? Researchers believe that earbuds and headphones connected to mobile devices are contributing to the issue. And the young aren’t 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 basic rule for teenagers and everyone. 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. A typical mobile device with the volume turned up to the max is about 106 decibels. In this scenario, damage begins to happen in under 4 minutes.

It might seem like everyone 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 if the latest research is to be accepted, this time will only get longer over the next few years. The production of dopamine acts in a similar way to addictive drugs and studies have shown that smartphones and other screens can activate the release of dopamine. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more difficult to get them to put their screens down.

The risks of hearing loss in young people

Regardless of age, hearing loss obviously presents numerous obstacles. For younger individuals though, after school activities, sports, and job prospects produce additional difficulties. Hearing loss at a young age causes issues with paying attention and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes playing 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 encounter unnecessary obstacles caused by hearing loss.

Hearing loss can also lead to social issues. Kids with damaged hearing have a harder time interacting 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 issues like depression and anxiety. Mental health treatment and hearing loss management often go together and this is particularly true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.

Preventing hearing loss when you’re young

The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a 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 tell them to lower the volume until you can no longer hear it.

You might also want to ditch the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds put directly in the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels when compared to traditional headphones.

In general, though, do what you can to reduce your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. You can’t control everything they do while at school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And you should get a hearing examination for your child if you believe they may already be dealing with hearing loss.



The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.