It’s hard to remember life before unlimited access to modern technology – especially our smartphones. Over the past few decades, technology has literally revolutionized our lives. Remember the days of calling the airline to get flight status in order to pick up a friend from the airport? Now – that friend simply lands and catches a rideshare through a smartphone app. On that note, when is the last time you needed to rely on a paper map for directions while driving?
In many important ways, modern technology has made our lives easier, better and more enjoyable. Although sometimes imperative and often entertaining, modern technology may also have a dark side. Technology could be linked to damaged hearing – especially for younger populations.
What about modern technology harms our hearing?
Much statistical evidence exists that links the increase in hearing loss with the boom in modern technology – especially considering personal listening devices. People seem to be losing their hearing earlier in their lives – many times due to noise induced hearing loss. One study found that one in twelve people in their 30s suffer from noise induced hearing loss. That’s almost ten percent! Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is completely preventable hearing loss that is caused by loud environmental sound, either in one large blast or over a prolonged period of time. Our personal listening devices, earbuds, and noise cancelling headphones are all prime suspects in causes of NIHL. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a whopping 1.1 billion young people are at risk of permanent hearing damage due to “unsafe use of personal listening devices, smartphones … nightclubs, bars and sporting events” (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/ear-care/en/).
Personal listening devices are also extremely popular – with recent data reporting that over 90% of young people listen to them regularly. Of these 90%, many do so on max volume (https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52747-How-modern-technology-is-damaging-our-hearing). Max volume for some personal listening devices has been clocked at an astonishing 110 dBA. To put that into perspective, sounds at 85 dBA can cause permanent hearing damage and a gas lawnmower rings in as less noisy at 106 dBA (https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Noise/). Although only some listen on max volume on a regular basis, a recent study found that 66% of listeners consistently set their volume to 85 dBA (enough to cause permanent damage) or higher.
How loud are your headphones?
The easiest and quickest way to check if your headphones or earbuds are too loud is to first set them at the volume you normally listen and then hold them an arms length away. If you can hear your podcast or music from that distance – they are too loud and loud enough to damage your hearing. You and your friends can also keep each other in check. If a person sitting next to you can hear your music through your headphones – they are also too loud.
How can we stay safe while using personal listening devices?
The easiest way to remain safe while listening to earbuds or headphones is to follow the 60/60 rule. The 60/60 rule means listening to your device for only 60 minutes per day at 60% of the device’s max volume. If you typically listen for longer than 60 minutes per day, then lowering your volume will help ensure you are keeping your hearing safe. If you are a parent or are just concerned with your hearing health, there are headphones marketed to children that have noise control options. For more information on these types of headphones, visit this list of the best headphones for kids in 2017 (http://www.techadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/audio/best-kids-headphones-2017-3641164/).
How Fidelity Hearing Center can help
Whether you are an avid personal listening device user or not, our friendly team at Fidelity Hearing Centers are here to help you. If you have noticed some of the signs of hearing loss such as hearing but not understanding, having friends and family complain about the volume of your devices or TV, or frustration in group conversations – schedule your hearing assessment today. Whether your hearing loss is noise induced or has happened with age, the hearing aids of today are sleek, discreet, and packed with powerful technology to make your life easier and more enjoyable. We look forward to hearing from you today!