A sign of the times is when you pull up to the gas station and the person across from you is pumping gas with earbuds in. Or when a group of young adults goes out to dinner together and at least one of the attendees wears earbuds throughout the meal. I personally have observed these two examples in the past three days! Probably the most common observance of earbud use is when you go to the gym. People workout and run or walk with music going in their ears. Is this a problem, or just a sign of the times?
Along with the connotation that a person does not want to be social, earbud use has been studied and researchers can positively say there is a connection to hearing loss.
In a 2001 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that almost 13% of American between the ages of 6 and 19 suffered from noise-induced hearing loss.1
According to Richard Knox, the author of an article on earbud use in 2007, “Scientists have measured sound levels from MP3 players. At 70 percent of volume, they pump out 85 decibels – about the same as the school cafeteria.”1
Other comparative sound levels:
Regular speech – about 60 decibels
Lawn mower – about 90 decibels
Chain saw – about 100 decibels; in the danger zone. Less than 30 min. at this level can cause permanent damage.1
Audiologists recommend not listening to music via earbuds over one hour per day, at a level of no greater than volume six on a ten point volume scale. Ringing in the ears after a session of earbud use is an indication that the volume level was too loud, and can be a sign of future ear damage.1
The iPod, which is a signature mp3 player owned by Apple, assisted in making earbud use popular with iPod sales. Before earbuds were made popular, most personal listening devices came with headphones that typically covered the ouside of the ear. The earbud is actually pushed and lodged into the ear canal, increasing the volume level and increasing the potential for ear damage.
Earbuds are only the latest in fads for the current generation listening to music. Do you think that it will be replaced with something else as technologies in music change?
1Richard Knox. Kids’ Use of Earbuds Worries Hearing Experts. NPR.