Technology that Kills

Kills your hearing that is… and the youngins don’t seem to care (yes, I realize this article is old).

Like many teenagers, the students often denied their own personal risk. Most knew the general hazards of loud music, but believed they had a “low personal vulnerability” to hearing loss, the researchers report in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Fools. Turns out that those old Walkman headphones were less harmful than the earbuds. That’s right – you’re safer kicking it Old School(TM) (yes, this is an even older article; sue me).

“We’re seeing the kind of hearing loss in younger people typically found in aging adults. Unfortunately, the earbuds preferred by music listeners are even more likely to cause hearing loss than the muff-type earphones that were associated with the older devices,” Garstecki said.

Not only are earbuds placed directly into the ear, they can boost the sound signal by as much as six to nine decibels. “That’s the difference in intensity between the sound made by a vacuum cleaner and the sound of a motorcycle engine,” said Garstecki, professor and chair in the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Like many average-joe-commuters, I spend my time on the bus either reading or listening to/watching shows on my iPod. Concerned about my hearing, I finally got a pair of over-the-ear headphones with a noise-canceling/reduction feature. Combine this with Apple’s latest volume lock feature — released last year — and you’re set for safe listening enjoyment.

If you insist on earbuds, there are some options out there modeled after actual passive earplugs. If you care a great deal about the quality of your sound, and value your hearing equally, there are always Ultimate Ears. There are a variety of UE models: some relatively affordable, while better models come at a premium… higher than, say, any iPod out there.

I chose this subject because, typically, at the bus stop or on the bus I can hear someone’s music leaking out of their earbuds. I shake my head and pity them, not because of their music choice (usually awful), but because the music is nearly as clear as a portable stereo turned up about a quarter of the way. And it’s in their ears!

Take care of yourself folks. You only get one pair of ears in this life. That, and I’m not paying for your implants with my tax dollars.

Doh! It looks like I am. Damn you, Medicare!

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