Following concerns from research groups that listening to your MP3 player via inner-ear headphones can be damaging to your hearing, Apple has today announced a software update for the iPod nano and fifth generation iPod, allowing customers to easily set their own personal maximum volume limit.

The software update also gives parents the ability to set a maximum volume limit on their child's iPod and lock it with a combination code.

"As the leading provider of digital music players, Apple continuously brings iPod customers innovative and easy to use solutions", said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing.

"With the increased attention in this area, we want to offer customers an easy to use option to set their own personal volume limit."

Sony has been offering the choice of limiting the volume on its speakers for some time.

The new software update 1.1.1 is available immediately as a free download for the iPod nano and the fifth generation iPod.

The new Volume Limit feature works with any headphone or accessory plugged into the iPod headphone jack as well as the iPod Radio Remote.