National Centre for Early Music

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Dr Chris Barlow


Associate Professor in Acoustics, Southampton Solent University
'How loud is too loud? Using mobile devices to educate, monitor hearing and improve the listening experience of young people with and without hearing loss'

Mobile devices are now ubiquitous amongst children and young adults, with an international survey showing that 65% of children aged over 8 own a mobile phone, with the average age of first ownership being 12. In addition, a far wider number own other smart devices such as tablet computers and smart media players. These devices offer both a significant hazard and a significant opportunity.   

There is significant negative media attention to the use of mobile devices for music listening. Mobile devices are well documented as being capable of providing hazardous sound pressure levels to the ear, and there is a significant risk to the hearing of children and young people from the long term use of mobile media devices. At the same time, these devices offer unparalleled opportunity to both examine young people's hearing and provide on the spot 'experiential' educational resources to help them understand the risks associated with excessive sound levels. They also offer the opportunity to significantly improve the music listening experience of users who have a known hearing loss, by providing compensation in the media player.    

Chris will be discussing the risks and opportunities of using mobile devices for children and young adults listening to music, and looking at some current projects to make positive use of the features of mobile devices to improve information and education on hearing loss and improve the listening experience for young people with hearing loss.