The way young people listen to music, whether at home or at a concert, can lead to widespread hearing loss around the world. According to a new study, a group of 670 million to 1.35 billion teens and young adults are currently at risk of losing their hearing due to unsafe listening practices.
The study you published BMJ Global Health JournalPrevalence and global estimates of unsafe listening practices in adolescents and young adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Research the effects of listening to music through personal listening devices (via headphones and earphones) and attending live performances in entertainment venues such as arenas, theatres, and bars.
The new research primarily looked at 33 existing studies that collected data from 35 registries totaling more than 19,000 young adults between the ages of 12 and 34. Of the records, 17 focus on personal listening devices and 18 focus on live music venues. The new study determined that approximately 24% of young people were listening to music at unsafe decibel levels on their personal listening devices and that 48% of people were exposed to dangerous decibel levels in various live settings.
With the current global population of people in that age group estimated at 2.8 billion people, the aforementioned range from 670 million to 1.35 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss.
The study is essentially a confirmation and update of the World Health Organization (WHO) 2015 warning that nearly 1 billion young people are at potential risk of hearing loss from voluntary exposure to recreational noise. While there are plenty of details about the new study, the key findings can be found in its official conclusion, excerpts below:
Exposure to unsafe listening practices from voluntary use of PLD games and attendance at noisy entertainment venues is highly prevalent among adolescents and young adults. It is estimated that 0.67-1.35 billion adolescents and young adults worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss from exposure to unsafe listening practices. There is an urgent need for governments, industry and civil society to prioritize global hearing loss prevention by promoting safe listening practices. WHO’s global standards, recommendations and toolkits are available to help develop and implement public health policies and initiatives to promote safe listening around the world.”
For more information, including exact decibel levels and other factors, read the full study here. In the meantime, be sure to take care of your ears when listening to music at home or at a show.