Teens love loud music, but loud music doesn’t love their ears. Why are more teens losing their hearing and what can be done to help them hear better, long-term?
Hearing loss; it’s not just your grandma’s impairment. While we do typically associate hearing loss with older populations, or with those born hard of hearing or deaf, children can be born with great hearing, only to experience familiar sounds and melodies fade as they enter their teenage years. Sometimes, hearing loss is gradual, but it can also present itself out of the blue.
Lately, this is happening increasingly more often.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss, up 30% since the 1990s. Recent studies indicate that 1 in 5 teenagers experience at least a slight hearing loss, putting them at risk of significant hearing impairments later on in life.
The main cause: exposure to loud music
Teens love loud music. It’s like a right of passage. There’s something intrinsically...teenagery about sticking in those earbuds, cranking up the volume, and rocking out to the latest beats by Lizzo, Lady Gaga, The Weekend, or “The Biebs,” as if no one is in the room - or they’re in the middle of a wild rager.
“Thanks” to the constantly advancing mobile phone industry, music can be listened to at any time and from anywhere, as long as the listener’s smartphone has enough battery power left over from its user’s latest battle on Fortnite, or Tik Tok photoshoot. And innovations in the field of noise-canceling headphones and earbuds means that those in the listener’s midst won’t necessarily know just how loud the volume is - and can’t intervene before damage to the ear has already occurred.
Of course, mobile devices aren’t the only sources of loud noise teens tap into. Today’s club scene is reaching new decibels with its party-hopping music and accompanying tizzy of lights, smoke screens, and libations (even “teen clubs” that don’t serve alcohol have drinks as loud in personality as the music they’re prepared to). This is far louder than the WHO’s recommendation of up to 85 dB in volume, for up to a maximum of eight hours per day.
It almost seems that listening to loud music - on your own or in the company of others - is a social construct teens are required to adopt if they wish to fit in.
Rising to meet the needs of teens with hearing loss
When a teen’s hearing is impaired and they either mishear or misunderstand what others are trying to say, they experience social, emotional, and educational challenges. As a result, they may disconnect and distance themselves from others - or feel that others distance themselves from them.
With these challenges in mind, and teens’ best health and interests at heart, the WHO recommends teaching teens about safeguarding their hearing from a young age. How? By avoiding the temptation to turn the volume up on personal audio devices, as well as by protecting their ears with earplugs or noise-canceling earphones when in noisy spaces. Apps can help monitor safe listening levels and help let teens know when it’s time to take a break from their audio devices or other noisy activities.
While preventing hearing loss in teenagers in the first place is ideal, at Tunefork, we want to help all people enjoy a better quality of life through improved hearing. That’s why we’re on a mission to deliver highly personalized Audio Profiles to ensure optimum mobile device sound. With Tunefork, teens can take a simple, free hearing test to establish their unique earprint and start optimizing their hearing experience, from any integrated device.
Want to help your teen hear better and rejoin their social circle? Download the Tunefork app today!