By John Olusegun 3:36 pm PST

A World Health Organization (WHO)-led study has released an analysis in the BMJ Global Health that exposes the use of headphones among youths. The publication includes the purpose, methodology and result of the research. The study mainly reveals the rampant use of headphones among youths and the unsafe way many use these accessories.

After evaluating results from 33 studies published in four languages over the last two decades, the team reached some conclusions. The first is that 24 per cent of the young people studied had unsafe listening practices while using headphones with devices like smartphones.

The study also shows that double that figure are exposed to harmful noise levels at concert venues and nightclubs. Considering that the research subjects were 19,000 young people between 12 and 34 years, the study is believed to have covered a vast pool. The conclusion from studying those people is that between 670,000 and 1.35 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss.

Lauren Dillard, the study’s first author, stated that the wide range is partly because some people are exposed to both factors. They are continually exposed to loud audio from their headphones and at venues. Admitting that people like loud music, she suggested lessening the risk of hearing loss by reducing the headphones’ volume and listening for shorter periods.

The impact of listening to loud music shows over time as hearing loss sets in within the latter stages of a person’s life. So, when you listen to loud music in your teen and early adult years, you may not experience the consequences until you are 60 or 70. This is because continuous exposure over the years takes time to manifest.

To lessen these impacts, Dillard advised young people to use the settings and apps on their smartphones to monitor sound levels when using headphones. For loud environments like concerts and nightclubs, earplugs are encouraged to protect your auditory cells over time. You can also invest in noise-cancelling headphones to protect yourself in noisy environments. This is better than turning your music louder to drown out loud background noise.

The study’s authors understand that more stakeholders, apart from the youths, are involved in controlling this risk. This is why they called for governments to enforce laws regarding outdoor audio levels. By establishing regulations on music levels for venues like concerts and nightclubs, they will contribute to safe listening by following the WHO guidelines.

Companies making audio accessories are also urged to install features to warn listeners when the audio volume is too loud. Another way they are encouraged to help is by including parental locks on phones to protect children from unrestricted exposure to loud music and other potentially harmful uses of the phone.

 The study has been lauded for its exposition on the dangers of hearing loss amongst the world’s population. The WHO states that over 430 million people currently have hearing loss. The number is estimated to rise to 700 million by 2050. This dire prediction necessitates encouraging stakeholders to take action immediately. The main criticisms of the report are that the authors used different methodologies, and none of the studies are from low-income countries.