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Teenagers are well aware that loud music can damage their hearing, according to a Dutch survey. But the still ignore the risk.

Even though teenagers know that loud music is damaging, they still turn up the volume on their iPods and MP3 players. Young people do not recognize their own individual risk and believe their vulnerability to be minimal, as far as their hearing is concerned, according to a recent study.

73 students aged 12-18 years from two high schools in Holland took part in the study.

Parents and music producers asked to be more responsible

?We strongly recommend parents to inform their children and to discuss with their children the use of MP3 players and the potential long-term, irreversible consequences for hearing capacity?, stated lead researcher Ineke Vogel of the University Medical Center Rotterdam.

In general, the researchers recommend that parents be aware of their children possibly experiencing symptoms, such as ringing in the ears. They should also be aware of the volume at which their children listen on their personal stereos. Few teenagers said that their parents had warned them about the consequences of playing music on their iPods or MP3s at excessive volume levels.

The Dutch researchers believe that manufacturers of personal stereos should take greater responsibility and provide features, such as clear warning signals on the players. The study showed that teenagers were unaware of when the noise levels became excessive.

Rule of thumb

A good rule of thumb, according to Vogel and her colleagues, is to never turn the volume up higher than 60 percent of full capacity when using the ear bud style headphones provided with the players. When using over-the-ear headphones, the maximum volume setting should be 70 percent of capacity.

Vogel and her team of researchers find a need for general safety guidelines for leisure-time noise exposure, similar to existing safety standards for occupational noise exposure.

Source: www.reuters.com; The Journal of Pediatrics, March 2008

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