Listening to MP3 players at higher volumes and attending loud concerts have been linked to other health-risk behaviors in adolescents, according to new research.
“As with more traditional risk behaviors such as substance use and unsafe sexual intercourse, of which adverse health consequences have been recognized as important public health issues, risky music-listening behaviors pose a threat to young peoples’ future health,” researcher Ineke Vogel, PhD, and colleagues from the Netherlands wrote.
For the study, 944 Dutch students completed questionnaires about their music listening habits, as well as other health risk behaviors in the past 4 weeks that included daily cigarette smoking, binge drinking, cannabis use, hard drug use (cocaine, Ecstasy, amphetamines and heroin) and unprotected sex. The participants, aged 15 to 25 years, were enrolled from inner-city senior-secondary vocational schools. Controlling for age, ethnicity and the participants’ home situation, the researchers used multiple logistic regression analyses to determine the associations between music listening and other health-risk behaviors.
The current European occupational safety standards regard music volume levels exceeding 80 dB for 40 hours a week to be potentially damaging. Risky music listening was defined in the study as listening for 56 hours per week to a music level of 80 dB.
The researchers estimated that 30.4% of the participants exceeded the revised safety threshold for MP3 player use, and 48.1% exceeded the threshold at live pop concerts and discotheques. Those who participated in risky music listening with an MP3 player more often used cannabis during the past 4 weeks. Participants exposed to sound levels exceeding the revised safety threshold at live pop concerts and discotheques used cannabis less often during the past 4 weeks but were more often binge drinkers and reported inconsistent condom use during sexual intercourse.
Results also showed that 5.5% of participants had used hard drugs in the past 4 weeks, 33.2% participated in binge drinking and 37.5% reported inconsistent use of condoms during sexual intercourse. With the exception for hard drug use, all health-risk behaviors were significantly correlated with each other, according to the researchers.
“The high prevalence of risky music-listening behavior among youth attending lower education and its coexistence with other health-risk behaviors has important implications for both research on understanding the behaviors and planning interventions,” they wrote.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.