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The Penndulum

The Penndulum

The Health of Headphones

apple airpods in ear
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apple airpods in ear

High noise levels have become increasingly prevalent in the modern world. A study conducted by Apple Hearing Study (AHS) concluded that one in three Americans are regularly exposed to excessive noise levels of over 70 decibels (dB).

Sounds are measured in decibels. Prolonged exposure to sounds over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. These high sound levels cause irreversible damage to the cilia, or hair cells, in the inner ear. When the cilia die, they do not grow back, and the damage is permanent. Airpods have become a significant source of hearing damage in the younger generations. According to the American Osteopathic Association, one in five teens will experience some form of hearing loss, which is 30% higher than the rate 20 years ago. Teenagers use AirPods frequently throughout their day. Jayden Charity, a student at Pennridge, wears AirPods for around eight hours a day. His volume level varies, but on average, he stated that it’s generally on half volume, 60 dB. He pointed out that he was worried about hearing loss in the future, “I am worried because I play my music louder than I should be.”

Richard Hampson, AP Environmental Science teacher at Pennridge, states that “ears are meant to reverberate out naturally. It would be near impossible not to cause damage.” He also noted an increase in ear infections because of a lack of circulation, stating, “You’re creating an environment that bacteria loves.” However, hearing loss isn’t the only damage from excessive headphone use. There can be developmental issues because you are simply not hearing the world around you. Hampson noted, “It’s assumed that the average person of this generation will need hearing aids 18 years sooner than millennials, in their early to mid-forties.”

There are also mental health issues surrounding the overuse of headphones. The National Library of Medicine points out that earphone users showed 1.32 times higher odds of anxiety and depressive symptoms. Hampson points out, “More extent of hearing loss leads to frustrated lifestyles simply because you can’t hear well; quality of life decreases.” The max volume for AirPods is 110 dB, the equivalent of a chainsaw. Apple has been sued for having excessive volumes in the past. The main issue is not their product but how it’s misused. Hampson recommends, “You want to keep the volume as low as possible for as much as possible.”


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Christian Cullen, Student Writer
Christian Cullen, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include NHS, Link Crew, volleyball, snowboarding, and going to the mountains. Christian plans to attend either Rutgers University or Penn State University to study Pre-Law or Economics.

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