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The big risk to young adults’ and children’s hearing

children's hearing

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Published on 16/11/2022

Almost a quarter of teenagers and young adults could be putting their hearing at risk by listening to excessively loud music through earphones, ear buds or headphones. A study of young adults’ and children’s hearing found that 24% of 12 to 34-year-olds use their personal listening devices at what is an “unsafe level.”

What the researchers said

Researchers from the University of South Carolina in the US published their study in the journal BMJ Global Health and called for governments to “urgently” implement safe listening policies.

“Recurrent or even single instances of unsafe listening may cause physiological damage to the auditory system, presenting as transient or permanent tinnitus and/or changes to hearing,” the academics said. “Damage from unsafe listening can compound over the life course, and noise exposure earlier in life may make individuals more vulnerable to age-related hearing loss.”

They looked at previous studies on personal listening devices and loud music venues which took place between 2000 and 2021. This included 33 projects involving 19,000 people.

Young adults’ and children’s hearing study results

The authors estimated that 23% of adults studied and 27% of “minors” experienced excessive noise from personal listening devices.

They also projected that 48% of people aged 12-34 around the world hear excessive noise in loud music venues such as clubs or bars. But they warned they couldn’t be certain of this estimate.

The authors concluded that exposure to loud music at venues and through personal listening devices could mean as many as many as a billion teenagers and young adults could be at risk of hearing loss in later life.

They concluded: “Unsafe listening practices are highly prevalent worldwide and may place over one billion young people at risk of hearing loss.

“These findings highlight the urgent need to implement policy focused on safe listening habits worldwide in order to promote hearing loss prevention.”

children's hearing

How to protect children’s hearing

You can take steps to protect your children’s hearing. Cutting the volume and limiting their time using headphones or earphones is the most obvious. Children need to give their ears a rest, so make sure they leave plenty of time between listening sessions.

Using earplugs or ear defenders in noisy environments helps, as does setting a good example. They are more likely to exhibit risky behaviour if they see you do the same.


How do you protect your children’s hearing? Leave a Comment below

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