One in four teens is in danger of early hearing loss as a direct result of too many hours of listening each day – at too high a volume – to music on their iPods and other MP3 devices. That’s according to Tel Aviv University researcher Chava Muchnik and her colleagues, who studied teens’ music listening habits and announced their results on December 28, 2011.
The results, published in the International Journal of Audiology, show that many teens are at risk for hearing loss before middle age.
The first stage of the study included 289 participants aged 13 to 17. They were asked to answer questions about their habits on personal listening devices — specifically, their preferred listening levels and the duration of their listening. In the second stage, measurements of these listening levels were performed on 74 teens in both quiet and noisy environments. The measured volume levels were used to calculate the potential risk to hearing according to damage risk criteria laid out by industrial health and safety regulations.
The results were that 80 percent of those studied used these devices regularly, with 21 percent listening from one to four hours daily, and eight percent listening more than four hours consecutively. Taken together with the acoustic measurement results, the data indicate that a quarter of the participants are at severe risk for hearing loss, according to Professor Muchnik:
Those who are misusing MP3 players today might find that their hearing begins to deteriorate as early as their 30’s and 40’s — much earlier than past generations.
In 10 or 20 years it will be too late to realize that an entire generation of young people is suffering from hearing problems much earlier than expected from natural aging.
Bottom line: Young people today are putting themselves at risk for early hearing loss by listening to their iPods and other MP3 devices for too many hours a day – at too high a volumne – according to University of Tel Aviv researcher Chava Muchnik and her colleagues, who announced their results on December 28, 2011. The results, published in the International Journal of Audiology, show that teens have harmful music-listening habits, putting them at risk for hearing loss before middle age.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.