– The title is in jest, of course, though hearing problems are not a joke. In the past most people had to pass a certain age before they started to consider a hearing device, but today, as a result of regular and ubiquitous attacks on the hearing sense of children and young adults, hearing loss is not any longer mainly related to old-age.
Ipods, cellphones with music capabilities, THX cinemas & others, TV Home Theaters, video games, concerts, discos and better access to cheaper and higher output sound technology, has put many youngsters all over the world in danger and every day many lose a little more of their hearing and suddenly start needing a hearing aid to live a normal active life or, even in some extreme cases suffer permanent deafness.
All over the world hearing problems are appearing more often and at an increasingly younger age. For example in the UK, 20% of all adults between 18 and 25 have hearing problems, in France it is 22%. In Mexico, even though there are sound pressure limits set by law in restaurants, discos, bars and night clubs, these are not upheld and 15% of all young adults have hearing loss issues.
A few days ago the British Ministry of Defense ordered musicians to wear foam earplugs (or other similar hearing protection) to uphold health and safety laws. Musicians have complained it could impair their ability to play in tune or in time, but one can imagine that they’d prefer earplugs, than to have to purchase a hearing aid in a few years time.
Cheap new mp3 music players, led by Apple’s iPod have had an incredible penetration in the market, now even kids 6 years old, or younger, run around with potential ear blasters in their pockets. To make things even worse, most of these players arrive to the end user with low isolation earphones, compounding the issue, as people tend to increase the volume to drown outside ambient noise, putting even more stress on the ear, add to this that most of them can reach 100dB or even more, they are hearing damaging devices in the wrong hands.
Music is important in people’s lives, yes, but it must be enjoyed with moderation. Parents, teachers and governments must educate the population, explaining the dangers and offering advice on how enjoy music and avoid damage your ears at the same time, so today’s youngsters can reach a mature age without hearing aids and permanent hearing damage.