If we’re being honest, most of us are in a relationship with our headphones.
It’s easy to be attracted to both their form and function. Not only are they sleek and customizable, but headphones offer emotional comfort, protecting us safely in a cocoon of sound that makes us feel all is right in the world.
We’re also very, very attached to each other. Stop anyone on the street, and you’ll find headphones coiled in purses, waiting in cars, stuffed in pockets, or sitting next to our computers.
Headphones, we love you.
So how can something we adore be threatening our health? To answer this question, we should start at the beginning.
A Short History of Headphones
We weren’t always this attached to our electronic devices. In fact, the first headphones weren’t used for music at all, but by telephone operators in 1880’s. They were clunky (resting on your shoulder), and heavy (10 pounds!), but functional.
From there, headphones started making their way into the hands of those who could afford them (like opera patrons), and by 1910, were utilized by the U.S. Navy.
It was the middle of the 20th century that the headphones we know and love today really started taking shape, and companies like AKG and Stax developed more mainstream models that were used for stereos.
When Sony’s Walkman debuted in 1979, headphones became portable, leaving our hearing at much greater risk of damage. As slimmer, earbud and in-ear models arrived in the 1980s, it set the stage the early 2000’s when Bose released noise-cancelling headphones and the iPod hit shelves.
Life has never been the same.
When it comes to headphones today, love is in the air. Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but they can help accessorize your sound experience, too, as evidenced when Lil Wayne wore a pair valued at $1 million!
Headphones and Health
The best relationships are happy and healthy, and the same goes for your headphones.
Once your hearing is gone, it’s permanent, and no amount of money can bring it back, even if you do have Lil Wayne’s budget.
Today, one in six teens has permanent hearing loss from loud sounds.
When your headphones are at max volume, hearing loss begins after just 15 minutes of exposure.
Although hearing loss is often invisible, studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can lead to a host of health challenges, including impaired memory, fatigue, irritability, depression, and diminished overall health.
We don’t like the sound of that.
But it’s not all rain clouds and rotting rose petals on the floor. The good news is that the majority of noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.
If you start implementing healthy practices now, you’ll have a healthy relationship with your headphones for years to come.
3 Ways to Make Headphones Healthy
Ready to have a healthy relationship with your headphones? Here are three ways to do it.
1. Turn down the volume. If you can’t hear the world around you when using headphones, the volume is too high.
2. Give your ears a rest. Duration of exposure makes a difference. As a rule of thumb, the louder the volume, the shorter you should listen. Want to spend more time with your headphones? Listen longer at a lower decibel.
3. Take control. Apple has implemented a volume limit settings for some iPods. Use this feature to restrict the maximum volume of a song, and give yourself some peace of mind, too.
You might never look at your headphones the same way again, but your ears will thank you.
Now, we want to hear from you! Do you Listen Carefully, or are you planning to start? Let us know in the comments!