Study Examines Teen Beliefs and Behaviors Around iPod Use, Risk For Hearing Loss



A new study looks at the volume at which adolescents listen to their iPods, how/if their knowledge and beliefs about hearing loss from headphones influences their behavior, and whether their listening behaviors put them at increased risk for music-induced hearing loss. Twenty-nine teenagers (12 males, 17 females) participated in the study, which was conducted by audiologists led by Dr. Cory Portnuff at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

This is the first time a study has specifically looked at the teen population and whether the volume at which they actually listen to their devices matches their perceived behavior. Past research by the study authors has looked at the volume levels at which young adults (typically aged 25-28) listen to their iPods and MP3 players.

In this study, participants were asked to set their music volume in varying levels of background noise, estimate how loud they typically listen, and describe their perceptions about their risk for developing hearing loss from using headphones. Results of the research suggest that:

  * Teens choose to play their music louder than young adults

  * Teenage boys tend to listen at louder levels than girls

  * There may be a disconnect between how loud teens think their players are and how loud they  actually are

  * Surprisingly, teenagers who express more concern about the risk for and severity of hearing loss from MP3 players actually tended to listen at higher levels

  * Teenagers who perceive barriers to turning down the volume, such as peer pressure, listen louder

  * The behavior exhibited by a small, but significant, percentage of adolescents puts them at increased risk for music-induced hearing loss

  * Teens who understood the benefits of listening lower had less hearing loss risk, so targeted education may be key


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