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Survey of College Students on iPod Use and Hearing Health
06 August 2020 (online)
Background: The popularity of personal listening devices (PLDs) including iPods has increased dramatically over the past decade. PLDs allow users to listen to music uninterrupted for prolonged periods and at levels that may pose a risk for hearing loss in some listeners, particularly those using earbud earphones that fail to attenuate high ambient noise levels and necessitate increasing volume for acoustic enjoyment. Earlier studies have documented PLD use by teenagers and adults, but omitted college students, which represent a large segment of individuals who use these devices.
Purpose: This study surveyed college students' knowledge about, experiences with, attitudes toward, and practices and preferences for hearing health and use of iPods and/or other PLDs. The study was designed to help determine the need, content, and preferred format for educational outreach campaigns regarding safe iPod use to college students.
Research Design: An 83-item questionnaire was designed and used to survey college students' knowledge about, experiences with, attitudes toward, and practices/preferences for hearing health and PLD use. The questionnaire assessed Demographics and Knowledge of Hearing Health, iPod Users' Practices and Preferences, Attitudes toward iPod Use, and Reasons for iPod Use.
Results: Generally, most college students were knowledgeable about hearing health but could use information about signs of and how to prevent hearing loss. Two-thirds of these students used iPods, but not at levels or for durations that should pose excessive risks for hearing loss when listening in quiet environments. However, most iPod users could be at risk for hearing loss given a combination of common practices.
Conclusions: Most of these college students should not be at great risk of hearing loss from their iPods when used conscientiously. Some concern is warranted for a small segment of these students who seemed to be most at risk because they listened to their iPods at high volume levels for long durations using earbuds, and reported that they may already have hearing loss due to their iPods.