Movement to Prevent Hearing Loss in Teens Gains Momentum

Starkey Hearing Foundation's Listen Carefully program, which educates teens about the dangers of listening to music too loudly and aims to prevent teen hearing loss, has gained momentum.

female teen wearing headphonesThe Starkey Hearing Foundation applauds efforts by New York City Mayor Bloomberg to encourage young people to turn down the volume. The mayor’s initiative mirrors the goal of the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Listen Carefully program, a national campaign launched in 2011, designed to educate young people about the risks associated with listening too loudly, especially through ear buds.

“It’s exciting to see hearing health becoming a public priority, and we applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed hearing loss prevention campaign,” said Steven Sawalich, executive director of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. “The goal of the campaign aligns closely with Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Listen Carefully program—to encourage young people to protect their hearing. The more resources we can put behind this cause, the more we can help prevent hearing loss.”

Listen Carefully promotes a simple message: Hearing is fragile. So don’t listen loudly. Listen carefully. The goal of the campaign is to spread the word among young people and adults to protect their hearing by lowering the volume of portable audio players—a simple solution with long-term impact. The campaign works with schools to educate students on hearing health. Through the program, more than 16,000 teaching guides have been distributed through a partnership with Scholastic since May 2012—including 4,500 guides distributed to schools in New York City. The teaching guides are also available to anyone as a free download.

Teen hearing loss has seen a 31-percent increase over the past decade, and Starkey’s Listen Carefully aims to reverse that alarming trend. The majority of teen hearing loss is preventable, and educating young people, their parents, and the public on the fragile nature of hearing is the first step toward prevention.

According to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, loud sounds such as music pumping through headphones and ear buds at too high a volume have the ability to destroy the tiny hair cells in the inner ear over time. These tiny hair cells are essential in converting sound waves into messages and nerve impulses that are sent to the brain as sounds. If just 30 percent of these hair cells are damaged or destroyed, one will experience permanent hearing loss.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation believes hearing-health education is a powerful vehicle to increase connection among people and empower them to reach their full potential.

More information about Listen Carefully and the Starkey Hearing Foundation can be found on its website, as well as Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Starkey Hearing Foundation uses hearing as a vehicle to reflect caring and improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities around the world, by helping them reach their full potential. Hearing loss affects 1 in 10 Americans, and 63 million children worldwide, yet many do not have access to the hearing devices that can help them. Starkey Hearing Foundation fits and gives more than 100,000 hearing aids annually, and as a member of President Clinton’s Global Initiative, it has pledged to fit one million hearing aids this decade. In addition to giving the gift of hearing through worldwide hearing missions, Starkey Hearing Foundation promotes hearing health awareness and education through the Listen Carefully initiative and provides hearing instruments to low-income Americans through the Hear Now program. For more information on Starkey Hearing Foundation, visit

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