Headphones and young ears


Alex Harris

Students use earbuds to drown out other sounds in school, but that could really affect their hearing.

Alex Harris, Writer

Many teens are oblivious to the fact that they can experience hearing loss at a young age due to excessive volume with headphones. They blast music through their headphones, unaware of the impact; but how much will it really affect them?


“You only have one set of ears. The actions you take in your youth can affect your day-to-day life later on,“ explained Elizabeth Mulcahy, advisor of the ASL club and ASL teacher at Oakdale. “Hearing never rejuvenates. It will only get worse.”


Most students listen to music through earbuds during class. On average, students have their volume about 75% of the max volume. Students say they could have it quieter and still be able to hear, but they prefer to drown out all the outside noise while they are working. 


Some students take their earbuds out while the teacher is speaking, or only have one in so they can still understand their them. Most students do not use noise cancelling/isolating headphones, but have considered buying them.


Dr. Alex Snyder, clinical audiologist, explained, “Using earbuds alone at a reasonable volume will not cause hearing loss, but loud volumes for long periods of time can.”


“I’ve seen students who will have an entire conversation with me with their earbuds in. This isn’t a sign of disrespect, I think at this point it’s acceptable,” says Jennifer Pryzbocki, a teacher at OHS.


Some teachers see this as a distraction and choose to make their class a no-phone zone. Others say it helps their students focus on their work. Regardless, if students can’t hear their teacher, they won’t be able to understand the lessons and assignments.Mulcahy voiced, “If someone else can hear it, it’s too loud. Never have your earbuds at maximum volume.”


Teachers have different solutions for grabbing students’ attention, including flickering the lights, tapping their desk, or even pausing their lesson until they have the students’ undivided attention.


“Some discipline is necessary. Knowing when to turn them down or take them out is important. It’s all about knowing the cues,” Pryzbocki stated.


Noise induced hearing loss is the only preventable form of hearing loss, so people need to take considerable measures in order to prevent it. Students who have extracurriculars or hobbies where sound awareness is needed, such as band, hunting, or sports, should always use proper hearing protection.


People can lose their hearing without even knowing sometimes.

It’s very subtle and gradual.”

— Educator Jen Pryzbocki

. Because it’s a silent horse, doctors recommend that students get a hearing screening every 2-3 years. This can be done at the health department, any hearing aid dispensary, or in some cases, the school.The school provides an annual hearing check for those who are concerned about their hearing. They would have to be recommended by a teacher, however.


Pryzbocki expressed, “I don’t see earbuds as a negative. You just need to be mindful of the volume and know when to take them out, but there is so much good coming from them.”


Students can take American Sign Language as a class to fulfill their foreign language credit required to graduate. Or, if students are simply interested in learning sign language and/or sign language culture, they could join the ASL club as an extracurricular.


It would be helpful for students to learn to communicate with people who have hearing loss, and helpful for if they suddenly lose their hearing.  With the current volume levels high school students are using with their headphones, that could be more likely than most would think.