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Thursday 18 July 2019

Limit headphones to one hour a day

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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.

Sunday Independent

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