Search form

Turn Down Music to Save Hearing



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Dance, Music
  • Mathematics
  • Health
    --Our Bodies
  • Social Studies
    --Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

Could those portable music players be harming kids' hearing?

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, take an informal survey of your students and record the results. Ask

  • Do you listen to music on a portable music player?
  • Do you use the tiny "earbud" earphones when you listen to music?
  • Do you ever have to say "What?" or "Huh?" during a normal conversation because you did not hear clearly what another person said?
  • Do you have to raise the volume on a TV to hear it well?
  • Do you ever experience a ringing sound in your ears?

News Words

Introduce the words that appear in the News Word Box on the students' printable page. Have students use one of those words to complete each sentence below.

  • We conducted a _____ to learn which soft drinks were our favorites. (survey)
  • Jack drove _____ home after work. (directly)
  • The narrow opening between the outer ear and the inner ear is called the ear _____. (canal)
  • I didn't _____ that you can fly from New York to London in only seven hours. (realize)
  • The laptop computer came with a carrying case that made it very _____. (portable)
  • Grandpa turned up the _____ on the TV so he could hear it. (volume)

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story Turn Down Music to Save Hearing.

Reading the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

* Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

* Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

* Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story.

  • A recent survey conducted for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) revealed that 51 percent of teenagers have experienced one or more symptoms of hearing loss. Only 37 percent of adults reported any of those symptoms.
  • The survey revealed that
    --- 29 percent of teenagers reported saying "What?" or "Huh?" during conversations compared to 21 percent of adults.
    --- 17 percent of students reported hearing a ringing sound in the ear (tinnitus) compared to 12 percent of adults.
    --- 49 percent of the students, vs. 63 percent of adults, said they had experienced no symptoms of hearing loss.
    --- 59 percent of students said they played music at a high volume compared with 34 percent of adults.
  • Government officials are now calling for more studies in order to firmly establish a connection between earbud headphones and hearing loss.
  • Apple is the leader in sales of MP3 portable music players. They have sold more than 42 million iPods since the product was introduced in 2001.
  • Portable music players are capable of outputting sound in the 115 to 130 decibel range, which is comparable to the sound level of a jet engine, according to James Battey, director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
  • In response to the new survey, Apple Computer released a new software update on March 29 that limits the personal maximum volume level of its iPod models. That free download is available at "Parents can also use the feature to set volume limits on their child's iPod, and lock settings with coded combinations," according to an article published on
  • "Louder and longer is definitely not the way to use these products," Brenda Lonsbury-Martin, PhD, ASHA's chief staff officer for science and research, told stereophile. "Eventually, that becomes a recipe for noise-induced hearing loss, which is permanent."
  • The study also revealed that African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than Caucasians to acknowledge that they have experienced symptoms of hearing loss; and teenage boys and are more likely than girls to use music players in ways that may cause hearing loss.

Comprehension Check

Recalling Detail

  • What are some of the signs that portable music players might be causing hearing loss? (asking people to repeat what they said, needing to turn up the TV volume, having a ringing sound in the ears)
  • Which type of earphone is better -- the little "earbud" earphones or the larger earphones that cover the entire ear? Why? (the larger earphones are better because they don't force sound directly into the ear canal)
  • How can you protect yourself from hearing damage when you use a portable music player? (turn down the volume, use bigger earphones, or spend less time using your music player)

Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News questions that appear on the students' news page.

Follow-Up Activities

Science -- the ear. Share with students the resource Let's Hear It for the Ear from (Click the link on the page to get a printable version of the document.) After students have had a chance to study the resource, read each statement below and ask students to identify whether the statement tells something about the outer ear, the middle ear, or the inner ear.

  • Ear wax is produced in this part of the ear. (outer ear)
  • The cochlea is found in this part of your ear. (inner ear)
  • This part of the ear is called the pinna or the auricle. (outer ear)
  • You will find the ossicles in this part of the ear. (middle ear)
  • Three tiny bones -- the hammer, anvil, and stirrup -- are located here. (middle ear)
  • Tiny hairs line this part of your ear. (inner ear; note that this is also true of the semicircular canals of the middle ear)
  • This part of your ear transmits signals to your brain. (inner ear)
  • This is the part of the ear that people can see. (outer ear)
  • This part of the ear collects sounds. (outer ear)
  • This part of the ear takes sound waves and turns them into vibrations. (middle ear)
  • This part of your ear is filled with liquid. (inner ear; note that this is also true of the semicircular canals of the middle ear)
  • The eardrum is in this part of the ear. (middle ear)
  • Liquid filled canals in this part of the ear help us maintain our balance. (inner ear)
  • The ear canal is part of this. (outer ear)
  • This part of your ear is connected to your nose by a narrow tube called the eustachian tube. (middle ear)

Math -- graphing. Provide students with a decibel chart that shows the amount (decibel level) of sound created by some common noises. Have students choose five of the noisemakers on the chart to produce a bar graph that offers a visual comparison of their decibel levels.

Art. Have students create posters to promote the message that students should turn down the volume on portable music players. Display the posters in school hallways or other public places.


Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

NA-M.K-4.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-M.5-8.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-M.9-12.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts

MATHEMATICS: Representation
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena

NPH-H.K-4.2 Health Information, Products and Services
NPH-H.K-4.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.K-4.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
GRADES 5 - 8
NPH-H.5-8.2 Health Information, Products and Services
NPH-H.5-8.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.5-8.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
GRADES 9 - 12
NPH-H.9-12.2 Health Information, Products and Services
NPH-H.9-12.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.9-12.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health

See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World