Use of portable audio devices by university students

Shazia Ahmed, Sina Fallah, Brenda Garrido, Andrew Gross, Matthew King, Timothy Morrish, Desiree Pereira, Shaun Sharma, Ewelina Zaszewska, Kathy Pichora-Fuller


New digital portable audio devices such as the Apple iPod have caused renewed concerns that recreational noise exposure may pose a danger to the hearing health of young adults. In this study, 150 undergraduates completed a survey about their use of portable audio devices and about other factors that could affect their hearing health. In addition to completing the survey, 24 students also participated in an experimental session. In the experimental session, hearing thresholds up to 14 kHz were measured and objective acoustical measures of output of the iPod were obtained. Participants listened to music and adjusted an iPod to their preferred setting in five conditions: in quiet and in two types of background noise, traffic or multi-talker babble background, at a high and a low level. A Brüel and Kjær dummy head and PULSE sound analysis system were used to measure the output of the iPod at the preferred settings of the students and at predetermined volume and equalizer control settings. It was found that most students use portable audio devices, but the pattern of their usage seems to be potentially hazardous only for a minority. The importance of education about safe usage of this technology is emphasized.


Acoustic noise; Audition; Education; Equalizers; Portable equipment; Digital portable audio devices; Multi-talker babble; Noise exposure; Portable audio devices

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