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I read online that headphones can make you deaf. How can that happen? Should I keep my kids from using headphones?

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YES THEY CAN AND DO

Pardon the flashy text, but I really really really need to be as clear as I possibly can be. Headphones, like any other source of loud sounds, can and do often cause hearing loss. It is absolutely imperative that you pay special attention to not only your listening habits, but also your surroundings.

See, those loud sounds that cause you pain? They also damage your hearing if they’re loud enough. While it is true that humans lose their hearing over time anyway, exposure to excessive amounts of sound will accelerate this process.

If you’d like to read more about the mechanics of noise-induced hearing loss, definitely head over to the wikipedia article. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg; you could also get tinnitus—a constant ringing or whining that only you can hear.

So what’s a safe volume? That’s a tough thing to pin down; it depends on how long you’re going to be exposed to the sound. However, nobody really adjusts volume based on how long they think they’re going to listen, yeah? If you listen to music a lot, I’d say to keep your tunes under 80dB if you can. But your phone doesn’t display loudness in those units, do they?

Most people will say that 50-60% volume on your smartphone is safe, but that’s inexact. I’ve often wondered about making an app to tell you what’s safe or not, but the math-proficient of you out there can figure it out using the equations in this article. 50% is a good benchmark for now, though.

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