The researchers analyzed data on 12- to 19-year-olds from a nationwide health survey. They compared hearing loss in nearly 3,000 kids tested from 1988-94 to nearly 1,800 kids tested over 2005-06.
The prevalence of hearing loss increased from about 15 percent to 19.5 percent.
Most of the hearing loss was “slight,” defined as inability to hear at 16 to 24 decibels — or sounds such as a whisper or rustling leaves. A teenager with slight hearing loss might not be able to hear water dripping or his mother whispering “good night.”
… Loud music isn’t new, of course. Each new generation of teenagers has found a new technology to blast music — from the bulky headphones of the 1960s to the handheld Sony Walkmans of the 1980s.