Sunday, January 8, 2012

Plugged In: What makes people think they won’t go deaf?

3dancers     By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
 The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. When I research on the internet it’s like walking through the biggest library in the world. Yet with all the resources available online there are still some questions that go unanswered.
Maybe you can help.
 Why do people think they won’t suffer permanent ear damage when they spend hours daily with MP3s blaring directly into their brain? What makes them think after years of use they won’t be reading lips?
Is it because no empirically based studies have warned consumers? No. A recent European Commission review confirmed that listening to personal music players at high volumes over a sustained period of time can lead to permanent hearing damage.
The 2011 European Commission says by 2020 it could be commonplace to see one in ten 30 years olds wearing a hearing device as a result of listening to loud personal music players.
Brian Fligor, a doctor at the Children's Hospital in Boston, explains when volume is increased by three decibels, if you listen for only half as long, it produces the same hearing damage as listening for the full duration at the lower volume. Typically, someone who is exposed to more than 85 decibels of sound for eight hours damages their hearing. 
 Why single out MP3 players? The answer lies in the sheer number of songs MP3 players can hold. Other portable music players only hold one CD or cassette at a time, so people listen for a shorter time. MP3 players can store thousands of songs, resulting in longer use. Also, the earbuds common on MP3 players deliver the sound directly into the ear canal, eliminating other sounds.
 I’ve only touched on a small fragment of the information available that warns people, among other things, not to listen to a MP3 player more than one hour a day, and of the dangers involved when using one daily.
 None of the information seems to make a difference though. I constantly see people of all ages sporting earbuds in public places. Men, women, teenagers, children are plugged in. If everyone does it, it’s all right?
 Part of me wonders if any of the plugged-in set have never seen or heard anything warning them of the dangers of their habit? By some massive coincidence, have they all missed the news report, or study in the newspaper, that might have saved their ears?
  I can remember playing my 8-track tape player as loud as my Craig 10 inch speakers could stand. I didn’t think, or care, about ear damage back then. Everyone played their music loud. The only warning I ever got about playing my music too loud was from cops while cruising around the high school. I admittedly had little common sense back then, and didn’t worry about little things like damaging my hearing.
Am I making excuses for young people who play loud music? Not really. They’re the most likely to abuse their own ear drums. Unfortunately, they’re also the most likely to continue bombarding their ear canals if told to stop. 
In recent years I’ve seen other examples of high tech devices that can be harmful to one’s health. The one that bothers me the most is people who text and drive. More and more states are outlawing the practice, but I can’t help wondering why people think they can operate a car in traffic while typing inane messages on a tiny keyboard? Really?

Are people that stupid? Doe the same people who have MP3s plugged into their skulls text while driving? Does it take a certain type of person to believe they know best regardless of the facts? I’m beginning to think that may be the case. I’m not positive yet.
  I can only think of one other answer to my question: lots of people just don’t have common sense. They may get some as they get older, but by then it may be too late. That could explain a lot. What I thought was stupidity could just be indifference. Being clueless must have it’s merits because MP3 players and earbuds have seamlessly found their way into our culture.
 As It Stands, if you ever think of investing in the stock market you might check out hearing aide manufacturers!

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