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If I Can Hear It, It's Too Loud: Earbuds & Teen Hearing Loss

​Many parents will agree that their teens just don't listen. But what if it is because they can't hear?

Pediatricians have noticed that using earbuds or headphones might be damaging teens' hearing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to prevent this type of hearing loss and is recommending screening teens for hearing damage at higher tones to find out if they have high frequency hearing loss.

Kids expose themselves to noise through electronic media that often is louder than what is allowed by law in a workplace, according to Joseph F. Hagan Jr., M.D., FAAP, co-editor of the AAP Bright Futur​es Guidelines. "We know that does cause problems with high frequency hearing loss."

Recommended Hearing Screenings for Older Children & Teens

Kids should be screened at three ages:

  • 11-14 years

  • 15-17 years

  • 18-21 years

The test includes having a patient listen for a series of beeps through headphones to determine whether the patient can hear a range of pitches.

One in six adolescents has high frequency hearing loss, according to a study. This type of hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud noises, such as music played through headphones.

The authors of another study were surprised to find that the sound of a balloon popping is louder than a shotgun being fired. Both are loud enough to cause hearing loss. They warned that hearing damage is similar to sun damage. Too much can cause harm over time.

What More Can Parents Do?

Parents can help prevent hearing loss by teaching safe listening habits. Kids should take breaks after an hour of listening and turn the volume down to about 60% on their audio players. Youths should be able to hear conversations going on around them while listening to the music, according to the AAP. 

"What I tell my own patients is, 'If it hurts, there's a reason it hurts. Turn it down. If your ears feel funny afterwards, you had it on too loud,'" Dr. Hagan said. "As a dad, I used to say to my own kids, 'If I can hear it, it's too loud.'"

Find more hearing loss prevention tips here.


Last Updated
AAP News (Copyright © 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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