According to a study conducted in the Department of Communication Disorders at Tel Aviv University, about a quarter of Israeli youth may develop hearing disorders due to prolonged exposure to music players and loud noise. 289 adolescents aged 13-17 participated in the study that examined the habits of music listening through headphones attached to MP3 players, mobile phones and computers.
Eighty percent of participants reported that they listen to personal music players on a regular basis and 41 percent reported daily use. In addition, 83 percent said that they listen to music while driving.
The study shows that 49 percent of participants already encounter short term symptoms after listening to loud music. Twenty-one percent of the respondents reported changes in hearing and 11 percent suffered from “tinnitus”, which is the perception of sound within the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound.
The second phase of the study measured the intensity of the music played on music players. Researchers used miniature microphones which they inserted into the external audio channels in the participant’s ears.
Measurement revealed that 26 percent of the adolescents listen to music at an intensity that could cause damage and found that the average volume is 89 decibels.
For a comparison, noise regulations for factories allows workers to be exposed to 85 decibels for eight hours maximum, or 88 decibels for four hours. The measurement also discovered that many participants listened to music at 100 decibels or more.
Professor Hava Mutchnik, a lecturer at the Communication Disorders Department at Tel Aviv University and head of the research team, emphasized that in Israel and the United States, unlike Europe, there is no law which forbids the distribution of music players that enable playing more than 100 decibels.
The research partners were colleagues of Prof. Mutchnik, including Dr. Noam Amir, Dr. Ricki Kaplan-Ne’eman and Ester Shabtay. Other findings of the research are that 79 percent of adolescents are aware of the connection between high volume of music and actual hearing damage, but only 20 percent are concerned about it.
Also, only 13 percent of the participants ranked hearing difficulties as damaging their quality of life – below other factors such as drug addiction, car accidents and terror.