Portable Media Players As Displeasures
In spite of its benefits, you should still adopt a cautious approach and use media players in moderation as it could potentially impair your hearing ability or give you ear infections. In addition, illegal downloads (95%) of mp3 files has had a negative impact on our music industry.
On Hearing Loss...
The most concerned and pressing issue regarding music players is that it compliments with earphones such that they become a necessity to using these players. The media players of today, with their longer battery life and higher storage capacity, invite users, especially youths to use them for longer stretches of time which is also one of the factors that cause hearing loss among countless young people. In the worst of scenarios, listeners may risk permanent hearing loss as the nervous cells damaged in the process are not replaceable.
I am concerned that so many young people, in particular, who are frequent users of personal music players and mobile phones at high acoustic levels, may be unknowingly damaging their hearing irrevocably.
- Meglena Kuneva
Since the 1980s, audiologists have cautioned the users to use their players just one hour per day, especially as many listeners have their music turned up to 110 to 120 decibels, in order to block out the deafening noise of traffic and crowds. That is the equivalent of an entire rock concert blaring directly into your ears and it is enough to cause hearing loss after only about an hour and fifteen minutes!
Even only 6 to 9 decibels can be the difference in intensity between the sound made by a vacuum cleaner and the sound of a lawn mower. Have you ever tried putting your ear to a running lawn mower? Seriously, that is loud! Seeing as, our ears have gotten so used to loud volumes, we may not even notice we are playing it so loud. That, however, is where the true danger lies.
On Ear Infections...
Did you know that earphones not only boost chances of hearing loss, but also provide a breeding ground for bacteria? You must be thinking, "So what? A little bacteria never harmed anyone. We eat millions of them everyday and we always wake up bright and cheery in the morning." Well sure, when bacteria enters our bodies through food, the gastric juices in our stomach take care of them but what about bacteria in your ear? Researchers say that your earphones contain so much bacteria that wearing them constantly and frequently significantly increases bacterial growth in the ears.
An earlier study, published in the medical journal Laryngoscope, also measured bacteria levels on audio headsets - the type that are handed out on airplanes - and found that, after an hour's use, the number of bacteria had increased from 60 micro-organisms to 650. Like airline headsets, ear phones can easily carry potential pathogensAny infectious or disease-causing organism such as virus and bacteria., which can cause ear infections especially among school and college students who often share a set of earphones.
Newsflash: Ear infections are a big deal. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting and grumpy behvaiour. Additionally, it could result in fevers, sleeping disorders and also impair your hearing. In extreme cases, there could be thick and yellow or bloody drainage oozing from the ear. If this occurs, the eardrum has probably been ruptured.
Makes you think twice about sharing your earphones and cleaning them before use, doesn't it?
On Our Music Industry
Since CDs are no longer a prerequisite to using music players, listeners now extensively download audio files illegally from the Internet into their media players, violating copyright laws and adversely impacting the music scene with record sales dipping.
Just to put into context the harm that has been done in figures, more than 40 billion were downloaded illegally in 2008 and these do not even take into account file sharing between friends. Out of all downloads, only 5% them are legal which equals to $3.7 billion. And to again put these figures into perspective, the remaining 95% translates into about a whooping $32 billion lost in the music industry.
In the past, the best selling albums used to hit sales of 20 million copies, however, in 2008 Coldplay's top selling album Viva La Vida only managed 6.8 million in sales. Album sales in the US are experiencing their lowest point, dropping more than 10% from the previous year. This trend is very worrying as most listeners are no longer interested in the actual albums produced by artists, and would now rather select and download tracks through search engines giving rise to a phenomenon known as the 'digital cannibalism' in the music industry.
Above all, with media players now able to contain up to 15,000 songs, listeners are even more prone to downloading illegal music in order to fill up the storage space since buying as many songs would probably be too expensive. This could mean a downfall of the music industry and many promising new artists to be neglected, with their potentially outstanding talent and careers stifled. Other existing artists may also choose to drop out of this industry in order to pursue other opportunities. The prospects of the arrival of such a time, where less respect is being given to artists who dedicate much time and effort into their works, is more than frightening to me.
1. ausajder on Portable Music Players fans risk hearing damage. (14th March 2009)
2. Manchester Evening News' account on how earphone can damage health. (28th March 2009)
3. Sean Adams' article on illegal music download. (14th March 2009)
4. Pin Watts on negative effects of iPod listening. (14th March 2009)