Hearing loss is typically considered an older person’s problem – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people aged 75 and older copes with some kind of hearing loss. But studies show that younger individuals are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they are losing their hearing despite the fact that it’s totally preventable.
One study of 479 freshmen across three high schools discovered that 34% of those students showed indications of hearing loss. What could be causing this? The idea is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the issue. And younger people aren’t the only ones at risk.
Why do people under 60 experience hearing loss?
If other people 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 above 85 decibels – which is approximately the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. The majority of mobile devices can go well above 105dB. Utilized in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause damage.
While this seems like common sense stuff, the reality is that kids spend upwards of two hours every day on their devices, often with their earphones or earbuds plugged 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. Research shows that smartphones and other screens trigger dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. It will be more and more difficult to get screens away from kids, and their hearing might suffer because of it.
The dangers of hearing loss in young people
Regardless of age, hearing loss clearly presents numerous difficulties. Younger people, however, face additional issues with regards to academics, after-school activities, and even job possibilities. Hearing loss at a young age causes problems with paying attention and comprehending concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. It also makes playing sports much harder, since so much of sports involves listening to coaches and teammates giving directions and calling plays. Young adults and teenagers entering the workforce can encounter unnecessary obstacles due to hearing loss.
Hearing loss can also result in social problems. Kids frequently develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. 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 especially true with kids and teenagers in their early developmental years.
How young people can avoid hearing loss
Using earbuds or headphones for no more than 60 minutes a day and at a volume 60% of max 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 the sound while sitting near them, you should have them lower the volume until you can’t hear it.
You might also want to replace the earbuds and opt for the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds put directly into the ear can actually generate 6 to 9 extra decibels when compared to traditional headphones.
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 control what they’re doing when they’re not home. And you should get a hearing test for your child if you believe they might already be dealing with hearing loss.