Important information for parents who want to protect their kids from hearing loss as adults...
While many music-lovers are aware that listening to iPods and MP3 players at high volumes can lead to hearing loss, not too many of them — especially teens — actually do anything about it. In fact, when teens are pressured by friends or family to turn down their iPods, they do exactly what you'd expect teens to do — the opposite.
Led by Cory Portnuff, an audiologist at Colorado who began studying iPod-related hearing loss in 2006, a recent study conducted at Colorado University and Children's Hospital in Boston found that teens not only tend to play their music louder than adults but, often, are unaware of how loud they're playing it. "I honestly don't believe that most people understand they are putting themselves at risk, or at what level of risk," says Portnuff.
Portnuff has documented that listening to in-ear headphones for 90 minutes a day at 80% volume is probably safe for long-term hearing — a useful cut-off to keep in mind. (But softer is better: you can safely tune in at 70% volume for about four and half hours a day.) The risk of permanent hearing loss, Portnuff says, can increase with just five minutes of exposure a day to music at full volume.