Hearing Loss

Generation Deaf: The coming hearing loss of millennials

Last year, a World Health Organisation report said that half of those aged 12 – 35 were regularly exposing themselves to damaging volume levels on their smartphones, laptops and tablets – that’s 1.1 billion people. Millennials are regularly pushing the volume up past the 85 decibels mark (the same as busy city traffic) when below 75 is generally considered the safe mark. Damaging your hearing is much easier than most people think. Headphones can output up to 100dB (same level as a commercial jet from 300 metres away). At that level, permanent hearing loss can occur after just 15 minutes. Unless millennials put down the volume on their phones, we’re headed for Generation Deaf.


Battery life?

But haven’t we been here before? Wasn’t the Walkman released in 1979? Yes, yes it was. But the Walkman, beloved piece of tech for Gen Xers everywhere, ran on regular AA alkaline batteries which died after 2 hours. Today’s smartphones however, run on lithium-ion batteries which were nowhere to be seen in the 80s. Those Li-ion batteries can output a lot more power while lasting you 6+ hours. That means listening to Spotify or Deezer for a few hours a day at volumes much higher and longer than you could back in the 80s. Keep in mind that the American Medical Association saw an uptick in hearing loss between 1988 and 2006 in a 2010 study. This is where the looming Generation Deaf begins.


In-ear Headphones

In-ear headphones are no longer the preserve of musicians and sound engineers like they used to be. They’re a lot more common than when I picked up my first pair of Shure E2Cs a decade ago. In-ear headphones, which fit directly into the ear canal, bring the sound much closer to the eardrum than over the ear headphones or even regular headphones which sit in the outer ear.

As a long time audiophile who bought into quality earbuds before it was considered normal (I remember being called crazy for spending more than £60 on headphones at the time) even I know the temptation to crank up the volume. I’ve even used custom made ear moulds made by Veritas for about 7 or 8 years now to enhance my experience. To really be engulfed by the music and to drown out the outside world, you have to push up the volume. But this comes as a cost which millennials won’t realise until decades down the line.



Of course not all is doom and gloom. As ever, prevention is better than cure and it’s better to protect your hearing before hearing aids can help than enjoying your music a little louder than you should and correcting your hearing afterwards. The 60/60 rule is the best way to do this. Never listen to your music at over 60% volume, never listen for more than 60 minutes at a time and heed that little warning on your phone when it tells you not to turn the volume up any louder. Let’s put a stop to Generation Deaf!


If you think you may have a hearing loss, get in touch with Veritas to get a free hearing test. Alternatively, if you’d like some custom made ear moulds for your earbuds to forget you’re even wearing headphones (turning down the volume of course!) call or drop us an email.


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