An estimated 50% of people over the age of 75 have some type of hearing loss and that’s why most people think of it as a problem for older people. But in spite of the fact that in younger individuals it’s totally preventable, research shows that they too are at risk of developing hearing loss.
In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools demonstrated symptoms of hearing loss. The cause? The idea is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And younger people aren’t the only ones at risk.
What causes hearing loss in people under 60?
There’s a simple rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everyone else – if someone else can hear your music, then it’s too loud. If you listen to sounds louder than 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 begins to take place in less than 4 minutes.
It may seem as if everybody 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 the latest research is to be believed, this time will only increase over the next few years. Research shows that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. It will become harder and harder to get screens away from kids, and their hearing may suffer because of it.
Young people are at risk of hearing loss
Regardless of age, hearing loss obviously presents numerous obstacles. Younger individuals, however, face additional problems regarding academics, after-school sports, and even job possibilities. Students with hearing loss face an especially difficult time hearing and comprehending concepts. Sports become particularly difficult if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving instructions. Young adults and teenagers entering the workforce can experience unnecessary obstacles caused by hearing loss.
Hearing loss can also cause social issues. Kids frequently develop emotional and social problems which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Individuals who suffer with hearing loss frequently feel isolated and experience mental health issues 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.
Avoiding 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 per 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 close to them, you should tell them to lower the volume until you can no longer hear it.
It also might be smart to switch back to over-the-ear style headphones and stop using earbuds. Earbuds put directly inside of the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels compared to traditional headphones.
Whatever you can do to reduce your child’s exposure to loud sounds throughout the day will be helpful. Try to make their home time free of headphone use because you can’t control what they are doing when they’re not home. And you need to get a hearing exam for your child if you believe they might already be suffering from hearing loss.