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Turn down that noise! Huh?

Submitted by on Monday, 23 February 2009 2 Comments

noiseThe only surprising thing about a new University of Colorado, Boulder study is that who ever wrote the press release thought it was surprising.

“New iPod Listening Study Shows Surprising Behavior of Teens,” the headline reads.

The surprising findings: Some teens like to listen to loud music. Teen boys tend to listen louder than teen girls. Teens don’t listen to people who tell them to turn it down.

In other surprising news, the sun set in the West tonight.

I think the part that might have surprised researchers was also finding that not only do teens resist requests/pleas/orders to turn it down, but they usually instead crank it up a notch.

No surprise here.

Big Guy is eight years from the teens, and I realize that when he gets there today’s “eat your vegetables, do your homework and quit hitting your brother” problems will seem bucolic by then. Come to think of it, we’ll probably still be jousting about all those issues and then some.  But who knows.

The one thing I do know with 100-percent ironclad certainty: He will be one of those teens who surprised University of Colorado researchers.

It’s an inherited flaw carried on his Y chromosome. Either that or he learned it from his dad’s habit of cranking YouTube, the stereo, the radio, any noise-making device to ear-splitting levels. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could stand the stuff he likes to split my ears with, but Iron Maiden and Judas Priest aren’t my thing.

Dad and I have gone round and round on this issue for years. It’s particularly galling during road trips when there’s no where to run.

Me: Could you please turn that down a little?

Him: Turns it down for roughly 3.6 seconds, then his hand inches toward toward the volume knob the second he thinks I’m not looking, turning it higher than it was before I nicely asked that he turn it down.

Me: I saw that.

It’s the classic case of one person’s enjoyment versus the other’s right to not go insane.

Big Guy and I reached a detente on dissonance a few weeks ago when I finally was able to get the stereo speaker rewired after two years. Yes, that’s correct: Speaker, as in only one. I still haven’t gotten around to the other one, and I might not.

The deal: He could play the stuff that drives me sort of crazy at a volume no higher than eight, but not the crap that makes me full-tilt wacko. Def Leppard, Gary Moore: Acceptable. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest: Wait until your father’s home and I’m in the next county.

Except every time I leave the room, the volume starts to inch up magically. He can’t even blame this one on Boots – little brother can’t reach the stereo, even with a stool.

The researchers might be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. They think teens might not know how loud they are playing their music. That’s clearly not the case with my pre-pre-pre-teen, though. He has a number to look at, for crying out loud. I did it that way so he would know the exact digit that makes my ears start splitting.

So could it be that he’s simply stubborn? That we’re merely the latest players in that time-honored “turn that crap down” dance between mothers and sons? Or does he keep increasing the volume in hopes leaving himself room to turn it down without going as low as we’d agreed to?

The good news, according to the study:  A relatively low percentage of teens today, 7 to 24 percent, listen to music at dangerously loud levels. Those findings are similar to what researchers saw with the Walkman back in the day parents swore my peers were going to be deaf by the time they were 30.

If you look back further, I bet it’s the same thing researchers found when looking into ear phones and transistor radios, too.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Rob Miracle said:

    What? Huh? I can’t hear you.

    You see, (some of us) dude’s work by being precise. You said to Dad to turn down the music. You did not say by how much or for how long. He met your requirements as specified, accurately and without hesitation. You should be happy that he respected and honored your wishes and make him his favorite snack as a reward for his behavior.

    We aim to please, we really do.

    Now where I did I put that Nine-Inch-Nail CD.

  • Debra said:

    Ha! Thanks for this keen insight into the male mind, Rob. Hopelessly outnumbered as I am here, this perspective will be helpful.

    I’ve already drafted a way to correctly phrase my request the next time:

    “(Dad or Big Guy, whichever) could you please turn down that infernal racket for the rest of the day before blood starts shooting from my ears?”