Turn it down.
Loud music. Its right up there with drugs, fast food, and Paris Hilton.
Hearing loss has yet to become an important issue for our generation--it will be. According to the National Institute on Deafness the number of Americans with a hearing loss has doubled during the past 30 years. Some sources say the incidence of hearing loss may triple in the near future.
While this is good news for hearing aid companies (if you ever sit in on a presentation given by a hearing aid manufacturer they will offer up similar statistics, only with more enthusiasm) it is worrisome for young adults.
Mp3 players have altered the music experience. We have access to a variety of music and content that would have been unfathomable only five or six years ago. Devices are more portable than ever, capable of holding exhaustive volumes of music, and accessible to most consumers (you can buy a refurbished Ipod shuffle for only $50). Our generation is listening to music all the time.
Most often, we listen through headphones placed in the ear. Those trendy white earbuds popularized by the Apple Ipod are most likely to damage your hearing. The smaller the headphone, the higher their output at any given volume-control setting. Earbuds also lack the ability to block out background noise causing the user to increase the volume to compensate.
As ears adapt to loud sounds the listener perceives a gradual drop in loudness even though the volume has remained the same. Headphones are most responsible for this 'dulling' effect. With just a flick of the touch sensitive click wheel, volume can be increased to a level that will damage hearing.
While drugs, fast food, and Paris Hilton have all achieved a fair amount of media attention, the public has turned a blind eye (a deaf ear??) to loud music. I propose a simple solution:
All portable music devices should have the option of "locking" the volume so that it cannot be increased beyond a safe, preset level.