One in five teens have some form of hearing loss, a rate that is about 30% higher than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Many Otolaryngologists — the formal name for ear doctors — believe the rise is caused by headphones.

Many teens use headphones at frequent high or loud levels to drown out their worldly problems. There are different brands of headphones on the market but the brand doesn’t matter because loud is loud!

“I use them all the time to focus more and to get my day going,” said junior Sean Banks.

Mia Love, the nurse practitioner here at Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School in the St. John’s Health Clinic said, “It’s not really the headphones themselves, but the use is too frequent and too high for the volume.

“Earbuds are the worst, and typically are 6.9% higher than the headsets,” she said. “Most mp3 players can produce sounds up to 120 decibels, which is equivalent to a rock concert in your ears.”

It might be a strain on a teen’s life, but some think that headphones with intensive volume should be eliminated. If getting rid of this nosey pleasure is too drastic, maybe teens could reduce its use to twice a week or use it at a lower octave, Love suggests.

Headphones have a huge impact on teens today. Everywhere one looks there is an adolescent with headphones or a headset. Headphones at maximum sound can damage how sound is sent to the brain.

“Headphones do not directly attribute to brain cell damage and/or loss but what happens is the inner ear, also known as the cochlea, is damaged. The cochlea has tiny hairs which send sound to the brain and if the hair cells are damaged, they cannot relay sound to the brain,” Love explains.

She advocates what she calls the 60/60 rule: “If 60% of volume is used for just 60 minutes a day, then it will be safe.”