Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How You and Your Teen Can Use Headphones Safely

Woman shushing
The rising rate of hearing loss in teens - which I blogged about here - has been a popular subject in the media lately, but it can be tricky to find actual numbers on how music listening and headphone use can affect people's hearing. The results of a recent study on 8,710 teenage girls from the Northeast area of the United States offers some interesting data.

A residential facility surveyed nearly 9,000 girls over the course of 24 years. In 2001, it began asking the girls about their use of personal music players. Over the course of 7 years - until 2008 - "personal music player use rose fourfold, from 18.3 percent to 76.4 percent. High-frequency hearing loss increased from 12.4 percent to 19.2 percent [...], while the proportion of girls reporting tinnitus [...] nearly tripled, from 4.6 percent to 12.5 percent."  All but one of the girls who reported tinnitus used music players.

It's definitely interesting. The study cautions that there are other factors that can contribute to hearing loss; we're all exposed to a lot of noise each day, and not just music. But it's definitely something to consider.

Headphones and music players aren't all bad. How can individuals prevent hearing loss when listening to music?
  • If you have normal hearing, test if you can hear a typical conversation in a quiet room over the music. If you have to turn down or mute the player to hear something someone is saying, it is too loud.
  • See if your music player has a volume limit built in, or try volume-limiting headphones or an accessory such as the Macks EarSaver (note: I haven't tried this product).
  • If you're in a noisy environment, avoid using headphones for long periods of time to resist the temptation to turn them up.
  • If you're concerned you've lost hearing, have it tested and see what an audiologist recommends.
  • Do not listen to anything louder than 90 decibels for more than two hours per day; aim for less.
  • If you notice people seem to be mumbling, or sounds like the refrigerator or air conditioning seem to be taking precedence over other sounds, get your hearing checked.


  1. Recently, there was an interesting statistic that further emphasizes the point you are making wherein they said that teenage girls in the US were astonishingly more prone to becoming vulnerable to progressive loss of hearing because of continued use of media players and other devices that are plugged into the ear.

  2. Being a big family the boys usually wear headphones to watch YouTube videos or play games when we are having quiet time, best earbuds with mic


All comments on my blog are moderated, and I reserve the right not to publish any comments for any reason. This blog is set up so that anyone can comment. If you have trouble, email me, or check Blogger's help section.