Can You Hear Me Now, Teenagers?

Some blame Apple products for epidemic of teen deafness.

At last, a problem that can legitimately be blamed on that new-fangled way of listening to rock'n'roll music otherwise known as the earbud.

Teenage hearing loss has soared in recent years, with 30 percent more kids experiencing some form of the disability than did in the 1980s. Twenty percent of U.S. teens have lost some hearing, a new study indicates.

To be sure, loud music and earbuds are a contributing factor. "If you’re listening to music with headphones and you cannot listen to what your friend is saying, it’s too loud," says Gael Hannan of the Hearing Foundation of Canada.

It's important to note that the study did not attempt to identify causes of hearing loss. Conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the study's lead author
Josef Shargorodsky noted that causes might include a reaction to medication, fluid buildup, genetic disorders, and a general increase in the average decibel level of modern cities.

But now, most preventative attention is focusing on earbuds, which researchers say can channel music deeper into the ear and do greater damage. The tiny in-ear devices have proliferated in recent years, thanks to being pre-packaged with popular Apple appliances.

In another study, more than half of college students listened to music at 85 decibels or louder. That volume can cause permanent scarring, and can lead to learning difficulties for kids who can't make out softer noises in speech like s, f, th and sh.

Recommendations include voluntarily turning down the volume, as well as conducting hearing checks in schools.

Matt Baume has yet to meet a teenager who responds favorably to requests to turn down the volume.

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