An estimated 50% of individuals over the age of 75 have some level of hearing loss and that’s why most people think of it as an issue for older people. But despite the fact that in younger individuals it’s totally preventable, research shows that they too are in danger of developing hearing loss.
One study of 479 freshmen from three high schools discovered that 34% of those students showed signs of hearing loss. What could be causing this? The thought is that mobile devices with earbuds connected are contributing to the problem. And the young are not the only ones 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 everybody. If you listen to sounds louder than 85dB (around the volume of a vacuum cleaner) for extended time periods, your hearing can be damaged. The majority of mobile devices can go well above 105dB. In this situation, damage starts to happen in under 4 minutes.
It might seem like everyone would know this but teenagers often have their headphones in for hours at a time. They’re playing games, watching videos, or listening to music during this time. And if current research is to be believed, this time will only increase over the next few years. Studies show that smartphones and other screens stimulate dopamine production in younger kids’ brains, which is the same reaction caused by addictive drugs. Kids’ hearing will suffer as it becomes more challenging to get them to put down their devices.
The dangers of hearing loss in young people
Obviously, hearing loss presents numerous obstacles for anyone, regardless of age. For younger people though, after school activities, sports, and job prospects produce additional difficulties. Hearing loss at a young age leads to problems with paying attention and comprehending 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. Young adults and teenagers joining the workforce can face unnecessary roadblocks due to hearing loss.
Social problems can also persist due to hearing loss. Kids with damaged hearing have a harder time socializing with peers, which frequently leads to social and emotional problems that require therapy. Mental health issues are prevalent in people of all ages who cope with hearing loss because they frequently feel isolated and experience depression and anxiety. Managing hearing loss often needs to go hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, especially during the crucial developmental stages experienced by kids and teenagers.
How young people can avoid hearing loss
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 highest volume. If your kids listen to headphones at 60% and you can still hear the sound while sitting close to them, you should have them turn it down until you can’t hear it.
You may also want to ditch the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds placed 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 be helpful. You can’t regulate everything they do during school or on the bus, so try to make the time they’re at home headphone-free. And if you do believe your child is dealing with hearing loss, you should have them assessed right away.