An estimated 50% of people 75 or over have some type of hearing loss and that’s why most people consider it a problem for older people. But despite the fact that in younger people it’s entirely preventable, studies show that they too are at risk of experiencing hearing loss.
One study of 479 freshmen across three high schools found that 34% of those students showed signs of hearing loss. The cause? The thought is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the issue. And everyone’s at risk.
What causes hearing loss in people under 60?
If other people can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a basic rule for teenagers and everyone. Harm to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is about the sound of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended time period. Most mobile devices can go well above 105dB. In this scenario, damage starts to occur in under 4 minutes.
It may seem as if everyone would know this but teenagers often have their headphones in for hours at a time. During this time, they’re enjoying music, playing games, and watching video. And if the latest research is to be accepted, this time will only increase over the next several years. The production of dopamine acts in a similar way to addictive drugs and studies have shown that smartphones and other screens can stimulate the release of dopamine. It will become harder and harder to get screens away from kids, and their hearing could suffer because of it.
The risks of hearing loss in young people
Regardless of age, hearing loss clearly presents numerous obstacles. For younger people though, after school activities, sports, and job prospects produce additional difficulties. Students with hearing loss face an especially difficult time hearing and understanding concepts. It also makes participating in sports much harder, since so much of sports requires listening to coaches and teammates giving instructions and calling plays. Early hearing loss can have a negative impact on confidence as well, which puts unwanted roadblocks in the way of teenagers and young adults who are entering the workforce.
Social issues can also persist due to hearing loss. Kids often develop emotional and social issues which can require therapy if they have hearing loss. Mental health issues are common in individuals of all ages who cope with hearing loss because they often feel isolated and experience depression and anxiety. Managing hearing loss often must go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the important developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
How young people can prevent hearing loss
The first rule to observe is the 60/60 rule – devices and earbuds should only be used for 60 minutes a day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting close to them, you should tell them to turn it down until you can no longer hear it.
You may also want to ditch the earbuds and opt for the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds placed directly in 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. You can’t regulate everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home free of headphones. And if you do think your child is experiencing hearing loss, you should have them evaluated as soon as possible.