Teenage Use of Portable Listening Devices: A Hazard to Hearing?

University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA.
Journal of the American Academy of Audiology (Impact Factor: 1.59). 11/2011; 22(10):663-77. DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.22.10.5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recently, a number of popular media articles have raised some concern that portable listening devices (PLDs) may be increasing the risk for music-induced hearing loss (MIHL). However, literature regarding adolescents' listening behavior and how their attitudes and beliefs relate to behavior is currently limited.
The purposes of this study were (1) to investigate the relationship between volume control settings and output levels of PLDs, (2) to examine how adolescents' listening behavior changes as a function of background noise and noise isolation, (3) to investigate the relationship between self-reported listening levels and laboratory-measured listening levels, and (4) to evaluate the validity of the Listening Habits Questionnaire as a research tool for evaluating how attitudes and beliefs relate to PLD use behavior.
A descriptive study. Experiment 1 evaluated the output levels of a set of PLDs, and Experiment 2 characterized the listening behavior and attitudes toward PLD use of a group of adolescents.
Twenty-nine adolescents aged 13-17 yr, with normal hearing, participated in Experiment 2.
Experiment 1 evaluated the output levels of a set of PLDs with stock and accessory earphones using an acoustic manikin. Experiment 2 included survey measures of listening behavior and attitudes as well as output levels measured using a probe microphone.
The output levels of PLDs are capable of reaching levels that could increase the risk for MIHL, and 14% of teenagers in this study reported behavior that puts them at increased risk for hearing loss. However, measured listening levels in the laboratory settings did not correlate well with self-reported typical listening levels. Further, the Listening Habits Questionnaire described in this study may provide a useful research tool for examining the relationship between attitudes and beliefs and listening behavior.

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Available from: Cory D. F. Portnuff, Jul 29, 2015
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    • "Although DAP devices can produce sounds with the potential to damage the inner ear (Katz et al., 1982; Fligor & Cox, 2004; Hodgetts et al., 2007), the extent to which listeners use these devices at levels and durations that can induce hearing loss remains an issue of active debate (Fligor, 2006, 2009; for discussion, see editorial comments in Rabinowitz, 2010; for excellent recent review, see Portnuff et al., 2011). Survey data suggest some listeners engage in potentially risky listening behaviors, including extended listening durations, listening at high sound levels, or both (see Vogel et al., 2008; Danhauer et al., 2009; Quintanilla-Dieck et al., 2009; Shah et al., 2009; Vogel et al., 2009), but the true prevalence of risky listening behavior is unknown as listening level, duration, and frequency must all be considered. "
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