New research conducted for RNIDs Dont Lose the Music campaign (www.dontlosethemusic.com) reveals that a shocking 58% of 16-30 year olds are completely unaware of any risk to their hearing from using MP3 players and other audio products that attach directly to the ears. RNID is so concerned that the MP3 generation could be at risk from premature hearing damage, that its calling on manufacturers of MP3 players to protect consumers by providing clearer warnings on packaging about the dangers of listening too loudly to their products. The announcement comes at the start of the charitys first ever Dont Lose the Music Week (4-10 September 2006).
In addition, a massive 79% of 16-30 year olds have never seen warnings on the outside of the packaging of MP3 players. RNIDs Dont Lose the Music Campaign believes that MP3 player manufacturers have a responsibility to their customers to alert them to the potential dangers of listening to their products at high volumes.
Dont Lose the Music has written to all the leading manufacturers of MP3 players warning them of the potential dangers to their customers and asking them to provide more prominent warnings on and in packaging and if possible, to direct customers to sites such as www.dontlosethemusic.com where they can get independent and expert advice on how to protect their hearing.
Its clear that young people are not only shockingly unaware of any risk to their hearing, but also that manufacturers arent yet doing enough to warn people
RNID, the national charity representing the 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, launched the Dont Lose the Music campaign three years ago. The campaign doesnt aim to stop young people from listening to MP3 players or from going to pubs, bars and clubs and enjoying music, but to encourage people to protect themselves against the cumulative effects of loud music so they can enjoy the music they love for the rest of their lives.
Dr John Low, Chief Executive, RNID said: "We know that young people are at risk from losing their hearing prematurely by listening to loud music for too long on MP3 players. MP3 player manufacturers have a responsibility to make their customers aware of the risks and the need to listen at sensible levels and we urge them to incorporate prominent warnings into the packaging of their products.
"New technology and ever-increasing storage capacity enables people to listen non-stop for hours and at louder volumes than ever before. If you are regularly plugged in, it is only too easy to clock up noise doses that could damage your hearing forever.
"Its clear that young people are not only shockingly unaware of any risk to their hearing, but also that manufacturers arent yet doing enough to warn people. RNIDs Dont Lose the Music campaign wants people to be aware of the risks and take control to protect their hearing. We are willing to help manufacturers come up with an effective solution to this growing problem."
The warnings could come too late for some - Ian, 22 from Glasgow says: "Sometimes I dont realise how high Ive got my MP3 player - I think its not that loud, and then I go to turn it up and I realise its already at the top, so either Ive already gone deaf a bit or Ive just got used to it."
Already some young people feel that some responsibility should lie with the manufacturers. Cath, 27, from London says: "I was shocked when I found out that by listening to my MP3 player too loudly I could do serious damage to my hearing. If I saw a warning on the box Id definitely take it more seriously."
There were over 6.3 million MP3 players sold in 2005 in the UK alone, and RNID figures reveal that young people especially are listening to them at levels that can cause hearing loss with prolonged use. The figures show that 51.4% of 16-24 year olds listen to their stereos at least an hour a day with 19.7% listening for more than 21 hours a week.
There are steps that can be taken now by music lovers to help safeguard their hearing. Angela King, Senior Audiologist, RNID, says: "If young people arent made to be more aware of the dangers of listening to loud music via their MP3 players, they could end up facing premature hearing loss. RNIDs Dont Lose the Music Week is encouraging all users of MP3 players be aware to 'turn it down a notch' even reducing the volume slightly can go a long way to reducing the damage to your ears."
RNIDs Dont Lose the Music campaign is particularly concerned about the use of MP3 players amongst young people not only because of the high volumes, but the length of time they listen to them for.
Angela King continues: "Hearing loss from loud noise is caused by listening too loudly for too long a period of time. Ringing or buzzing in your ears after using an audio player is a warning sign that if you continue to stress your ears like this, you could damage your hearing permanently."
The Dont Lose the Music campaign is advising music fans to take some simple steps to protect their hearing whenever they listen to music:
- Turn it down a notch! Even a small decrease in volume could massively lessen the damage to your ears
- If you can hear sound from your headphones from two or three feet away, they are probably too loud
- Take a five minute rest period for every hour of listening to allow ears to recover
- Stand away from loud speakers when in pubs and clubs or at gigs and concerts
- Take regular breaks from the dance floor in pubs and clubs and use chillout areas to give ears a rest from loud music
- Wear earplugs specially designed for use in clubs and gigs, especially if you are regularly exposed to loud music i.e. as a frequent clubber, gig goer, DJ or musician.