Older News  » MP3 players and hearing loss

Last updated 12:36 PM on 30 March 2012

An MP3 player, such as an iPod, is an essential item for many kids but listening to them for long periods of time can cause permanent hearing loss.

And the experts say the volume doesn't have to be ear-splitting to cause damage.

The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB).

  • Conversation is generally 60dB.
  • Traffic noise can be around 80dB.
  • Louder noises, such as a plane taking off, a motorcycle or firecrackers can range from 120dB to 140dB.

Listening to music at levels above 80 decibels is going to damage hearing.

The volume on MP3 players can reach more than 130dB, depending on the model of player and type of earphones used.

It can take only 28 seconds of listening at too-high-a-volume to cause permanent hearing damage — and younger children are most vulnerable.


  • Watch for warning signs of hearing loss such as vague feelings of pressure or a ringing sound in the ears (tinnitus) when in a quiet place.
  • Lock the volume on your child's MP3 player to a safe listening level (no more than 75dB).
  • If you can hear the music from your child's headphones, it's up too loud.
  • Over-ear headphones are less damaging than in-ear headphones or earbuds.
  • Limit the amount of time your child listens to their MP3 and advise them to give their ears a rest every hour.

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