JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Earbuds, the portable little speakers that come standard with most smartphones these days, are causing hearing damage at an alarming rate.
Studies show 1 in 5 American teens already suffer from hearing loss because of earbuds.
That hearing damage is preventable, doctors say -- it's a volume thing.
"The thing is the deeper in the ear canal the more sound energy is put out by earbuds, and it actually turns up the volume even more," audiologist Dr. Fenja Mattson said.
Tens of millions of Americans, including 12 to 15 percent of school-aged children, already have permanent hearing loss and increasingly earbuds are to blame.
Mattson said thanks to the increasing popularity of earbuds, kids as young as 16 start showing signs of hearing loss.
"Limit your child's time with the smartphone when listening to the devices -- not past 30 minutes," Mattson said.
So how loud is too loud?
It's recommended not listening to anything over 85 decibels.
Listening to music too loudly once won't do much harm, but when users do it over and over again, they start getting into trouble.
"Just walking down the halls at school I can hear people's music just walking by so I'm not surprised," high school student Madeline Estes said.
One option is better quality noise-canceling headphones that go over the ear. Since these headphones work better at blocking out outside noise, users don't have to listen to their music as loudly.
Parents should talk to their kids about the dangers of hearing loss with earbuds, and remember if you can hear their music, it's too loud.