January 10, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Thousands of teens and young adults, who’ve helped make video games, cell-phones, MP3 players, and other audio devices wildly popular, have responded positively to hearing conservation messages delivered by It’s How You Listen That Counts™, an initiative from House Ear Institute.

Launched in 2006 through the Institute’s Sound Partners™ program to promote smart listening habits, the initiative’s educational video spot that ran on MTV inspired thousands of teens to log onto the www.earbud.org Web site to download more information about protecting their hearing. Answers to survey questions and quizzes posted on the site by the program’s icon Ear Bud indicate a growing concern about noise-induced hearing loss and safe listening habits among teens. An earlier test market phase of the initiative led to a 30% improvement among teens and young adult consumers in understanding the importance of preventing noise-damage and what they can do about it. While the majority of respondents favor high-quality sound and total immersion in their music or video games, they wish to avoid the risk of permanent noise-induced hearing loss.

The Institute recently conducted an online survey of preferences to help limit exposure to damaging decibel levels when using audio devices. The most popular choice on the wish list was finding audio electronics that feature built-in sound level alerts to help warn users when volumes reach levels that are potentially dangerous to hearing.

The House Ear Institute’s smart listening message reached 19 million young people nationwide during the fourth quarter of 2007 via hearing health outreach on social networking Web sites, game and blog sites, and other online venues popular with teens. Teen comments to blog entries and online articles reveal a growing awareness among young adults of the potential risk of noise exposure from concerts, video games and audio equipment. As electronic gadgets and music players become increasingly popular, House Ear Institute encourages electronics manufacturers to join its efforts as advocates in encouraging safe sound usage among their audio product consumers to prevent hearing loss. For example manufacturers such as Creative Labs, Sennheiser, and Etymotic Research as well as consumer associations, such as the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), are all actively partnering with House Ear Institute to promote hearing safety.

“As a world-renowned non-profit hearing science research institution, House Ear Institute is committed to prevention of hearing loss,” says Marilee Potthoff, marketing director, House Ear Institute. “We need to convey to young audio consumers that great sound is only appreciated with great hearing. It is all about how you listen that counts. Limiting exposure time to loud volume levels exceeding 85 decibels, and knowing what that means, is the bottom line to avoiding permanent noise-based hearing loss. It is very encouraging that our message strategy, which encourages people to enjoy great sound safely, is being embraced by teens and young adults.”

SOURCE: House Ear Institute