Headphones and earbuds are essential equipments for people nowadays. It is not rare to see students walking to class with their earphones on. Personally, I don’t have any preferences to either of them, but I have heard about statements which suggest that both devices cause hearing damages. Above that, some even suggest that earbuds are more harmful than headphones when it comes to hearing problems. And believe it or not, this statement even made my parents bought me a new headphone in order to replace my earbuds. So I think it would be interesting to look into those statements. Does those devices really cause hearing problems? Which one produces more hearing damages?
To understand whether headphones and earbuds damage our auditory system or not, I found out a source published by the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) . It concluded that nerve fibres are much more vulnerable than hair cells, an auditory system receptor also appears as an indicator sometimes for hearing lost, in the inner ear. According to Liberman, director of MEEI Eaton Peabody Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, people could lose 90% of their cochlear nerve fibres without any consciousness. This means that even though there aren’t any damages on the hair cells, people could still lose their hearings if the nerve fibres are damaged. To me, it is possible that the direct transform of noise from the earphone devices to the cochlea could cause damages.
An article from NBC News suggested that headphones are a better option than earbuds. It stated the “60/60” rules, which means the volume of the MP3 or phone devices should be under 60% and a person should be listening to it less than 60 minutes per day. However, when it comes to public environments, most of the people have the tendency to volume up their devices in order to block the noises from the surrounding. In those cases, headphones would be a better option than earbuds, because it covers up the ears to prevent outside noise. The article also included an infographic which listed out the reasons why earbuds cause more harm to ears.
It is certain that exposed to loud musics for a long period could damage hearing. But, headphones and earbuds, which one causes more hearing damages? I think it’s impossible to tell without seeing more statistics. Although there are tons of articles that are posted to explain how headphones are superior than earbuds and listed out possible mechanism behind it, there are still lack of research and experiments created on this area of study. The reason of that might be related to ethnical consideration by setting up experiments on this topic. If we think about it, signing up a randomized control trial by randomly dedicated people to groups which only use their headphones, or earbuds or banned them from using anything at all really isn’t possible. I think this is similar to the smoking cause cancer or the soda drink studies we’ve talked about in class. It’s impossible to force the smokers stop smoking or banned the kids from drinking sodas. The only thing we could do in these situations is controlled the strength of variables to see what it does to the correlation, such as comparing groups that drink diet coke with groups that drink coke. So, as the amount of studies on of headphones and earbuds increases in the future. We’ll get a better chance to tell the true result of it.