Blaring music is a standard teenage behavior, but chances are, your son or daughter doesn’t realize the potential damage they’re doing to their hearing. 81% of teens listen to music with earphones, but only 8% of adolescents believe that hearing loss is a major health concern.
And in fact, rates of hearing loss among teens today are about 30% higher than in the 1980s and 1990s. Also, 46% of teens show potential signs of hearing loss with occasional ringing, roaring, buzzing, or pain in their ears, and one in six teens report that they experience hearing loss symptoms some or all of the time.
Often, teens don’t realize the dangers of hearing loss because they fail to realize we only have a set number of hair cells in our ears. When sound travels into our ear and vibrates through various passageways, it ripples hair-like cells in our inner ear. Excessive noise kills the hair cells, and when enough of these hair cells die, we experience hearing loss.
Remind your teen that at full volume, digital music devices can make as much noise as a live rock concert, and it only takes eight minutes of listening to music at a very high volume to cause hearing loss. You should be able to hear someone speak to you at a conversational level from about three feet away; if you can’t, your headphones are too loud. You can also recommend the 60/60 rule to your teenager: listen to music for no more than 60 minutes at a time and at no more than 60% volume. Finally, caution your teenager against buying ear buds, which are closer to the ear drum and can cause more hearing loss when used.
As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your teenager isn’t hurting himself. Make sure that your teenager is well-aware of the dangers of headphones so that they don’t run the risk of hearing loss, and who knows? Maybe hearing loss is the reason they haven’t been listening to you!