Last Updated: March 20, 2021, 9:00 pm

OPINION | Be wary of damage earbuds can do

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Earbuds, headphones and AirPods are a common use among college students. While using them is a great way to listen to music and other media, consistently using them can cause hearing difficulties, Sydney Johnson says. Photo by Bailey Chamberlain.


As students, we all use earbuds or headphones everyday, but this is putting our hearing and the ability to be present in our environment at risk.

Headphones and earbuds are one of the easiest ways to listen to sound from a phone or computer and to block out other noises in the world. Nobody wants to hear a bunch of sounds from others devices, but earbuds and headphones also have a negative impact on our lives.

Did you know earbuds and headphones are slowly damaging your hearing? Noise-induced hearing loss is something to be aware of when wearing earbuds. According to Vox, 10-26 million people suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. Those from older generations suffer from age-related hearing loss, but with the introduction of earbuds, hearing loss is becoming more prevalent in younger generations too.

According to Wexner Medical, our ears have adapted to listening at 90-105 decibels through earbuds or headphones, which is very damaging to the eardrum. They recommend listening to music through earbuds or headphones at 80 decibels, which is about halfway along the volume slider. Our ears are quickly adapting to the loud volume that our earbuds or headphones are set at, so listening at 80 decibels may seem quiet at first, but your ears will adapt to this and realize it is plenty loud.

I personally love using my AirPods because they are easy to use and allow me to listen to what I want without distracting others; however, I am worried about the hearing loss I may be giving to myself by constantly using them every day. Not only am I damaging my hearing, but I am also missing out on what’s going on around me.

At times, I find myself having an AirPod in one ear and nothing in the other so I feel more present in the world. However, if I were trying to listen to something without having other noises distracting me, I would most definitely have both Pods in and turn up the volume much higher.

According to TeensHealth, it is much safer to “go retro” and use headphones rather than earbuds. Headphones are not nearly as close to the eardrum, which will help your hearing out in the long run. Another benefit of headphones is that most brands are noise-canceling, meaning you will not have to turn up the volume too loud, but you still take the risk of missing out on the world around you.

It is very important to be present in your environment. By being present, you are more likely to recognize the things you are grateful for and take part in important conversations. When our music is too loud or we are stuck in our phones, we are likely to miss out on building relationships with others.

Your music may sound amazing when it is up at full volume, but be wise about the use of earbuds and headphones. Consider the possibility of damaging your hearing and turn down the volume just a little bit, or at least switch over to noise-canceling headphones to block out sound without needing to turn the sound up too high.

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