Our children’s ears are starting to ring and it’s not because their parents are talking about them.

It seems as though everywhere you look young people are wearing headphones; while walking, biking, running, on the bus, at the gym, or just hanging out. I would even say that some young people struggle to leave the house without their tunes. Headphones are cooler than ever and can be an outward reflection of youth identity and status; from white Apple earbuds, to Dr. Dre Beats, to the wireless Jabra Sports. Yet despite the brand or style, all headphones have the potential to expose our children to damaging noise.

A number of years ago, I was on a live television program where I measured the loudness of various everyday sounds. It surprised me to discover that the sound of a city bus coming to a full stop measured 110 dB. Logically, students who take the bus to school will more than likely raise the volume of their music player in order to drown out outside environmental noise. So if a young bus rider turns on their music as they leave the house, waits 15 minutes for the bus, travels 20 minutes on the bus, walks another 10 minutes to school, and makes a return trip at the end of the day, they are exposed to 90 minutes of potentially damaging noise from their headphones.

CTV News recently ran a story about Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in young people. Sylvie Hebert, President of Tinnitus Quebec, was quoted stating the number of tests for Tinnitus in youth has risen substantially in her province. In simple terms, Tinnitus is described as your ears complaining about damage that has been done. Sometimes the ringing goes away and sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately, this trend of hearing damage in our youth is likely to get worse before it gets better.

And potential damage from headphones is not targeted strictly towards our youth. Adults can also suffer the effects of noise exposure from headphones. So if you have a relative or friend who uses headphones, please remind them to turn down the volume; their ears will thank them!

Link to the CTV News story.