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The deafening sound of Sonic Silence

Thursday, 14 June 2012


Listening to your iPod on full volume for just six minutes may lead to irreversible hearing damage, ECU researchers have found.

School of Psychology and Social Science researcher Associate Professor Paul Chang’s new project focuses of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), and how it can mean a lifetime of hearing damage for young people.

Professor Chang’s research has been used to develop Scitech’s newest exhibition, Sonic Silence. The new exhibition gives people a unique insight into hearing loss, by allowing them to enter an interactive world where sounds are distorted and hearing is affected.

Professor Chang surveyed three groups from different age ranges to get an understanding of how often they are exposed to loud noises, and whether they understand the consequences.

Key findings from the research include:

  • 50.6 per cent of 12 – 17 year-olds listen to music with personal, in ear headphones;
  • 87.2 per cent of people aged 18- 25 reported sometimes - always coming home from a concert with ringing ears; and
  • 68.3 per cent of teenagers reported that they do not wear any form of hearing protection.

“Young people are highly social, and hearing loss is something that can have significant impact on their ability to enjoy social situations,” Professor Chang said.

It provides the chance to physically experience what it’s like to suffer from NIHL, encouraging people to change their behaviours, before it’s too late.

“By experiencing what it’s actually like to live with this injury, young people can discover how socially isolating it can be, as it’s often just too hard to try and engage in social situations when it’s impossible to follow a conversation,” Professor Chang said.

Scitech CEO Alan Brien is excited about the new exhibition.

“This exhibit aims to highlight some of the issues around preventable hearing damage, and encourages young people to actively change their behaviour,” Mr Brien said.

The exhibition was officially launched today by special guest, the Honourable Mark Butler MP, Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing. It was developed in collaboration with Scitech and ECU, with funding from the Federal Government’s Office of Hearing Services.

For more information and to view the full research report visit the ECU website.


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