Limit head­phones to one hour a day

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - News - Alan O’Keeffe

CHIL­DREN should use ear­phones or head­phones for a max­i­mum of one hour a day when play­ing com­puter games to pre­vent dam­age to their hear­ing, par­ents were warned.

Chil­dren as young as eight are ex­ceed­ing the rec­om­mended one-hour time limit for play­ing com­puter games, said au­di­ol­o­gist Dolores Mad­den, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of Hid­den Hear­ing Ire­land.

“Chil­dren play­ing games with ear­phones should be taking reg­u­lar breaks to give their ears a break. The in­ten­sity of drum­ming sounds in their ears is detri­men­tal to their hear­ing. So they should only play those com­puter games for one hour a day,” she said.

“Ear­buds are much worse be­cause they just go straight into the in­ner ear. And young peo­ple are lis­ten­ing to their de­vices for two hours and more each day.”

Ms Mad­den rec­om­mended that the ‘60-60’ rule be ob­served — to limit wear­ing ear­phones or ear­buds for 60 min­utes a day at no more that a 60 deci­bel level.

More younger adults have suf­fered per­ma­nent dam­age to their hear­ing in re­cent years caused by lis­ten­ing to mu­sic or sounds on their de­vices that are too loud, she said.

“When peo­ple get their new mo­bile phones, they don’t go into the set­tings and change the vol­ume. Any­thing over 85 deci­bels should not be lis­tened to.

“Peo­ple have lit­tle hair cells in their in­ner ear which pick up sounds and send them to their brains. If they are blast­ing mu­sic in their head­phones, th­ese lit­tle hair cells can­not tol­er­ate it, they are so del­i­cate.

“They are killing them off. And they don’t re­place them­selves. So peo­ple end up be­ing hard of hear­ing. Not deaf but end­ing up mis­un­der­stand­ing what is be­ing said.

“That is why peo­ple turn up the vol­ume on their tele­vi­sions. So our ad­vice is pre­ven­ta­tive. Turn the mu­sic down,” Ms Mad­den said.

The au­di­ol­o­gist said an in­creas­ing num­ber of young adults with noise-in­duced hear­ing loss were seek­ing help in the com­pany’s clin­ics.

“Ten years ago, around 5pc of peo­ple aged un­der 45 were fit­ted with hear­ing aids. Now, 23pc of our hear­ing aids are for peo­ple un­der 45,” she said.

“Noise-in­duced hear­ing loss is the rea­son for this new de­vel­op­ment. It is pre­ventable. Peo­ple need to turn down the vol­umes on their de­vices,” she said.

An EU study claimed that it may be com­mon­place for one in 10 of all 30-year-olds to be wear­ing a hear­ing aid by 2020, Ms Mad­den added.

A sur­vey con­ducted by her com­pany last year found that 71pc of young peo­ple lis­tened to mu­sic via their mo­bile phone for an aver­age of two hours and five min­utes a day, twice the rec­om­mended time.

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