Young people generally don’t worry about their hearing, but new findings indicate that they should. The World Health Organisation recently reported that 1.1 billion young people aged 12 to 35 years are at risk of developing significant hearing loss due to the unsafe levels of loud music they expose themselves to.
The key to preventing avoidable hearing damage is to be safe when listening to music. Here are seven tips to keep in mind (or to pass on to the grandkids!)
1. Turn it down
Experts agree that it’s fine to regularly listen to your music player at around 70% of its maximum volume. Any louder than that is risky over an extended period of time.
2. Control the volume
Apple products feature a volume limit option. To adjust the volume limit on an iPhone or iPod, go to ‘Settings’, select ‘Music’, and then tap ‘Volume Limit’. Simply slide the bar to the desired maximum volume.
3. Put a time limit on listening time
It’s not just volume that contributes to hearing loss – it’s also the length of time you listen for. Giving your ears regular breaks when listening to music will reduce the risk of hearing loss.
4. Try the 60/60 rule
The louder the music, the less time you can listen to it safely. A good rule of thumb for safe listening is the 60/60 rule. Listen to your MP3 player for 60 minutes at 60% of its maximum volume before taking a break.
5. Use headphones instead of earphones
Earphones are the little buds you insert straight into your ears, while headphones are the larger ones that cover the ears entirely. Earphones are more likely to damage your hearing as they sit closer to the eardrum, and they generally have a higher volume output than headphones. Additionally, earphones are less effective at blocking out background noise, meaning the user is more likely to turn up the volume.
6. Use noise-cancelling headphones
Background noise can influence how you listen to music. For example, if you’re on a train, it’s likely you’ll turn up the volume on your iPod to compete with the noise. Noise-cancelling headphones eliminate ambient noise so you can listen to your device at a lower, safer volume.
7. Never listen at maximum volume
Researchers have discovered that some music players, including iPods, can reach a level of 115 dB – about as loud as a rock concert. It is not safe to listen to music at this level for more than a couple of minutes.