A deafened generation?

A whole generation of young people are facing a future half-crippled by hearing loss due to listening to excessively loud music through headphones and at concerts. A new report says that unsafe listening practices are ‘highly prevalent’ among young people at rock festivals and night clubs and when listening on personal devices, with 1.3 billion risking their hearing. Analysis of of 33 studies of almost 20,000 people found that one in four young people have ‘unsafe listening’ habits when on their headphones, with one in two endangering their long-term hearing at concerts. Scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina estimate that 23.8% of 665 million young people are risking their hearing from listening to music too loud on their headphones. And 48.2% or 1.35 billion people world wide are harming their hearing from listening to loud music at public venues.

‘Unsafe listening practices are highly prevalent and may place over 1 billion young people at risk of hearing loss’, the team reports in the BMJ. ‘There is an urgent need to prioritise policy focused on safe listening.’ The WHO estimates that over 430 million people across the world have disabling hearing loss. Younger people are especially vulnerable because of their infatuation with loud music, either through headphones or at public venues. Earlier research suggests that people often have their headphones on too loud, at volumes exceeding 105 decibels. Average sound levels at rock concerts range from 104 to 112 decibels, much higher than the permitted thresholds of 75 decibels for children and 80 for adults. ‘Increased exposure to unsafe listening practices may be one cause of increasing hearing loss in children.’ the researchers say, This is the first global study of unsafe listening practices.