Risky Behaviors & Risky Business

Listening to loud music could indicate further risky lifestyle choices

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) When researchers suggest that kids who listen to their music too loudly are more likely to drink and do drugs, the first thought might be that researchers are uptight.

But there does appear to be a correlation in the data.

A new study looks at the risk factors for binge drinking, drug use and unprotected sex. Results show that listening to music at unsafely high volumes is an indicator of risk taking behaviors.

"Keep music volume below 90 decibels at all times!"

Ineke Vogel, PhD, from the Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, led a team to look into the link between music listening habits and risky behaviors in teens and young adults.

Researchers asked 944 teenagers and young adults aged 15 to 25, from Dutch inner city vocational schools to fill out a survey about their music listening habits and health risk behaviors like substance abuse and unsafe sex.

The survey results indicate kids who blasted their iPods and MP3 players were more likely to have smoked marijuana in the last 4 weeks, while kids who went to clubs and concerts were more likely to have drank alcohol and engage in sexual intercourse without a condom.

‘Blasting music' was defined as sound levels ranging between 75 and 105 decibels for handheld devices and between 104 and 112 decibels or more for indoor and outdoor concerts. Once listeners are exposed to levels higher than 90 decibels for a prolonged period of time, the possibility of hearing damage comes into the mix.

The researchers' concern is that these kids are doing serious damage to their hearing that will make it difficult for them to function in society and they will begin to feel depressed and isolated before they even reach adulthood.

An estimated 30.4 percent of the students listened to their MP3-players above safe volume ranges. Over 48 percent were at risk for hearing damage from concerts. 37.5 percent reported inconsistent use of condoms during sexual activity, 5.5 percent had used hard drugs (not including marijuana) in the last 4 weeks, and 33.2 percent had participated in binge drinking.

Binge drinking is defined as 6 or more drinks in one sitting.

It may seem like a leap to create a stereotype out of youths that listen to their headphones too loud and like to go to concerts as being more likely to drink, use drugs and have unsafe intercourse, but researchers claim their intention is to identify patterns in order to design effective prevention and intervention techniques.

The correlation seems to be that risky behavior in one area is followed by risky behavior in another.

This study was published in Pediatrics, May 2012. No external funding was used and no conflicts of interest were found.   

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 24, 2012
Last Updated:
August 17, 2012