Why Your Earphones May Be Killing You

By Josh Blatt

Music plays a massive role in modern day society. Almost anywhere at Forest Hill, students can be seen with Apple earphones in their ears. With the introduction of portable music players and apps such as Spotify, it is easier than ever before to listen to music on the go. However, there are a variety of dangers regarding the use of these devices that are often overlooked. The primary issue is how the music is [restrict]listened to. More often than not, people choose to listen to their music using headphones or earbuds while out in society. People play their music far louder than they should which poses auditory health risks, are not as alert which has led to more accidents involving pedestrians listening to music, and people are more socially isolated as a result of listening to music out in public.

First of all, the volume at which many students listen to their music at an extreme high. According to a study from the World Health Organization, there are over 1 billion people that are at risk of hearing loss as a result of listening to their music too loudly. Furthermore, the study found that 50% of people in wealthy countries around the world from ages 12-35 on listen to their music at unsafe audio levels. If youth keep on listening to music at the intensity that they do, the irreversible hearing damage will be an inevitable reality for many of them.

Earbuds can cause more than just auditory damage. A person who is listening to music and walking cannot as easily listen to their surroundings, meaning they are at a higher risk of being injured. The number of serious injuries caused to those listening to music while walking has tripled since 2004, with three-quarters of these accidents resulting in deaths. In British Columbia, it is illegal to listen to music with headphones while driving because it decreases the driver’s ability to hear emergency vehicle and police sirens, the honking of other vehicles on the streets, pedestrians, and other things. This same reasoning can be applied to pedestrians listening to music with headphones on, showing how this can be very dangerous.

There is also an argument to be made that listening to music in public is socially isolating.

There is also an argument to be made that listening to music in public is socially isolating. People are significantly less likely to start up a conversation with you if you are listening to music with headphones on. It would even be reasonable to that this contributes to the loneliness epidemic that plagues Canada’s youth since it has become that much more difficult communicate with one another. Additionally, it is quite annoying to try to get the attention of others when listening to music.

Having all of that said, there are some solutions to each of these problems. To prevent hearing damages, the World Health Organization recommends that you don’t go above 60% of the maximum audio level allowed on your phone and take listening breaks every hour. If somebody really wants to listen to music in public and also be relatively safe and socially integrated, perhaps a better option would be to only put one earbud in, so they can still listen to their surroundings. Music is a fantastic form of self-expression and entertainment; it just has to be listened to at the correct volume level and in a safe setting to lower the risk of potential harm.

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