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20% of Today’s Kids Have Hearing Loss from Headphones

Tina Rupp

If it seems like your kid can’t hear you, he may not just be ignoring your pleas to clean up his room. According to a new study by the American Medical Association, nearly 20% of U.S. adolescents have some form of hearing loss, thanks in part to a combination of the new "ear bud" style of headphones and high-decibel music.

Your kids probably listen to music twice as much as you did when you were a kid, and at a much higher volume. Dr. Gary Curhan told the AP, "Someone with a slight hearing loss will hear all of the vowel sounds clearly, but might miss some of the consonant sounds. Although speech will be detectable, it might not be fully intelligible." That kind of setback might explain why your child struggles in school; he may not be able to hear his teachers clearly, especially because the hearing affects higher frequencies (aka a woman's voice -- that means yours, too, Mom.)

Dr. Nancy Snyderman told the Today Show that when looking at the volume bar on your mp3 player or iPod, it should not be above 50%. If you can hear your child's music while his headphone are on, it's too loud. Ask him to take a break every 20 minutes or so, or consider springing for noise-canceling headphones, which drown out background sounds, so he'll be less tempted to crank up his tunes. 

Mama was right – she always said that the music was too loud! Find out if other momisms, like "don't frown or you'll get wrinkles!" and "don't sit so close to the TV, you'll ruin your eyes!" are really true.