‘turn down that music’ a new study warns of hearing loss

A new study shares that over 1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe music listening practices.

Gone are the days of the walkman, when the space between your ears and the headset was as big as the Grand Canyon, and no matter how loud you had your music up, you could still hear your dad ask you to take out the rubbish.

Technology has come a long way in the last few years, and never before have we had such an all-encompassing audio experience as we have now. But who knew it could come with a potential price tag of hearing loss?

live shows hearing loss
Credit: Man of Many

A new study titled “Prevalence and Global Estimates of Unsafe Listening Practices in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” has recently reported that around 670 million to 1.35 billion of teens and young adults could lose their hearing due to unsafe listening practices.

BMJ Global Health Journal published the study, with results that are quietly shocking. The research looks into the effects of hearing music through headphones, earbuds and watching live performances at venues such as arenas, theatres and our personal favourite, the good old dive bar.

This research collectively studied with a further additional 33 studies have put together the data which looked at 19,000 young people aged 12 to 34. Out of the combined studies, 17 focused on personal listening devices and 18 centred on live music venues. 

The study found that 24% of young people were listening to music at dangerous decibel levels on their personal listening devices and 48% were exposed to dangerous decibel levels at various live performances.

Its currently estimated that 670 million to 1.35 billion young people are in danger of hearing loss.

WHO has since updated their health warnings and shared:

“Exposure to unsafe listening practices from voluntary use of PLDs and attendance at loud entertainment venues is highly prevalent in 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 global standards, recommendations and toolkits are available to aid in the development and implementation of policy and public health initiatives to promote safe listening worldwide.”

For more information, including the exact decibel levels and other factors, read the full study here. Meanwhile, do as your grandma tells ya, and turn down the music.