Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Teen Hearing and Music

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I remember hating it when my parents yelled "turn that music down," and yet, here I am, saying to both my teenage daughters, when they have their earbuds tucked into their ears, "I can hear that" - which is code for "turn that music down."

According to a 2005 article in Pediatrics, 12.5% of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 suffer from loss of hearing as a result of high volume used with ear phones. A major contributor to this significant statistic is the introduction of earbuds (small speakers that fit inside your ear) that deliver the sound directly into the ear canal, eliminating other sounds.

Another contributing factor to the potential for hearing damage is the amount of time spent "plugged in." With iPods and other MP3s, the number of storable songs is in the thousands, resulting in a longer hours of use.

So how do you know if you have damaged your ears with your music? One surefire way to tell your music is too loud is if others who are not wearing the earbuds, can hear the music playing in your ears. To avoid damage, experts recommend not listening to a music player for more than an hour a day. This may seem unreasonable to many teens who listen while they do homework, on the bus, on an airplane, waiting in line, working out, or just walking around. Often people resort to earbuds to try to cover up the already loud noise around them, but this causes even more damage because they have to turn the volume up even higher.

The two problems that arise from this loud volume for long durations of time are called tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss. These both occur when the tiny, sensitive nerve endings in your ear suffer trauma from high noise levels.

To protect yourself, or your teens, keep the volume and amount of time spent listening down!

Photo credit: redjar

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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