Recently released research claims the youth of today could go deaf up to 30 years earlier than previous generation.

Deafness Research UK warns that children face premature deafness because they play their iPods too loudly.

The claims come from a national UK survey conducted by the group, which found that 14 per cent of people spend up to 28 hours a week listening to their music player.

"More than a third of people who have experienced ringing in their ears after listening to loud music, listen to their MP3 player every day. Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is a sign of damage to their hearing," it warns.

Vivienne Michael, chief executive of Deafness Research UK, says: "Many young people are regularly using MP3 players for long periods of time and are frighteningly unaware of the fact that loud noise can permanently damage your hearing."

However, it may be unfair to blame Apple's iPod for a future deaf generation. Under European law, iPod volumes are capped at 100 decibels.

This is under the Health and Safety Executive's advice that noise levels exceeding 105 decibels can damage hearing if endured for over 15 minutes. That's louder than heavy traffic, but quieter than a car horn, according to Deafness Research.

The organisation warns that ignorance is the biggest threat. One-in-three (38 percent) of 16-34 year olds don't understand that listening to loud music on a personal music player, going to loud bars and nightclubs, playing loud music in the car or working with machinery, can damage their hearing.