Hearing loss is normally considered an older person’s problem – in fact, it’s estimated that nearly 50% of people aged 75 and older copes with some form of hearing loss. But studies show that younger people are at risk for hearing loss – and, alarmingly, they’re losing their hearing in spite of the fact that it’s totally avoidable.
In fact, 34% of the 479 freshmen who were studied across 4 high schools showed symptoms of hearing loss. The cause? The thought is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the issue. And the young aren’t the only ones at risk.
Why do individuals under 60 get hearing loss?
If others can hear your music, it’s too loud and that’s a general rule for teenagers and everybody. Harm to your hearing can occur when you listen to sounds above 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. The majority of mobile devices can go well above 105dB. Used in this way, 4 minutes is enough to cause injury.
It might seem as if everybody 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 this will only increase over the next several years, if we’re to believe present research. Studies show that smartphones and other screens activate 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
Obviously, hearing loss creates several difficulties for anyone, regardless of age. For younger individuals though, after school activities, sports, and job possibilities produce additional challenges. Hearing loss at a young age leads to problems with paying attention and understanding concepts during class, which puts the student at a disadvantage. Sports become particularly hard if you can’t hear coaches and teammates calling plays and giving instructions. Early hearing loss can have a detrimental impact on confidence as well, which puts unwanted obstacles in front of teenagers and young adults who are joining the workforce.
Social problems can also persist due to hearing loss. Kids with damaged hearing have a harder time connecting with peers, which frequently leads to social and emotional issues that require therapy. Mental health issues are common in individuals of all ages who have hearing loss because they often feel isolated and experience 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.
Preventing 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 a day at 60% or less of the maximum volume. Even at 60%, if other people can still hear the sound, it needs to be turned down.
You might also want to replace the earbuds and opt for the older style over-the-ear headphones. In comparison to traditional headphones, earbuds placed inside of the ear canal can actually create 5 to 10 extra decibels.
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 are doing while they’re not home. And if you do suspect your child is experiencing hearing loss, you should have them evaluated as soon as possible.