Older News  » MP3 players and hearing loss

Last updated 10:54 AM on 15 September 2011

When someone like Angry Anderson, former front man of rock band Rose Tattoo warns about young people inflicting hearing loss on themselves, you have to listen.

The Connect Hearing ambassador and father said he was particularly concerned about young people and their use of MP3 players (such as an iPod), especially when they have them turned up too loud.

"Look, I like loud music but that hasn't done me a lot of good over the years," he said. "Kids's hearing can't be repaired and mums and dads need to be aware of that.

Loudness levels at a glance

Conversation - 60 dB.
Traffic noise - 80 dB.
Planes taking off - 120 to 140 dB.
Firecrackers- 120 to 140 dB.
Some MP3 players maximum volume - over 130dB

Just 28 seconds of listening at too high a volume can cause permanent hearing damage—and younger children are most vulnerable. An American study last year found that 16 percent of six- to 19-year-olds had early signs of hearing loss.

In Australia, Connect Hearing confirmed its audiologists are treating a much larger number of younger clients presenting with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss related to noise exposure.

The experts say it doesn't have to be ear-splitting to cause damage. Information on the Connect Hearing website states that consistent use of MP3 players on a regular basis at levels above 75dB can cause hearing loss.

Safe listening tips for parents

  • If you can hear the music on your child's MP3 player, they have the volume up too high.
  • Buy over-ear headphones, which are less damaging than in-ear headphones or earbuds
  • Limit the amount of time your child listens to their MP3 and advise them to give their ears a rest every hour
  • For Apple products, download free software to set volume to safe levels www.apple.com.au

    To find out more or to post a comment go to Sounding off on MP3s, Issue 2 of NSW Public School's School Parents ezine