Hearing loss can occur to anyone at any point in their lifetime. In America, hearing loss affects around 34 million people. Your children may be in equal danger of encountering hearing loss as anyone else in your family. In fact, recently there has been a sharp rise in the cases of childhood loss of hearing. Parents often spend so much time worrying about their safety but they often overlook a major threat to their child’s auditory health: unsafe headphone use.
It is often a common complaint of every parent: “are you listening to me?!” Most of the times, be it children or young adults, we are all plugged in. We rarely glance up at dinner time and spend most of our time trapped in the virtual world. Children are spending a significant amount of time watching television or videos on their ipads, and using headphones to listen to blaring music.
Over extended periods of time, listening to loud sounds in close proximity to the ears can result in permanent hearing loss. This is why it is imperative to teach your children to regulate the use of headphones.
Parents are often unaware of what consists of unsafe listening habits. Unsafe sound levels are any levels that go beyond 85dB, which is approximately the amount of noise you would come across on a busy street filled with traffic. Anything beyond that is detrimental to your hearing health. Listening to music for extended periods of time at loud volumes can significantly damage your hearing.
It is important to become aware of the 60-60 rule so that you can implement it with your children. It is recommended that you encourage your children to limit their “plugged in” time listening to their headphones for no more than 60 minutes at a time, and at a maximum of 60% of the available volume on their personal audio device.
You may think that listening to a little music is not a big deal. In reality, smartphones and personal audio devices can reach volume levels of around 120dB, which is about the same sound level as a jackhammer in action! Just because the sound your child is listening to is more pleasant than that of a jackhammer does not make it any safer for their ears. The louder the volume, the lesser the amount of time it takes to damage one’s hearing. This means that a single 10 minute session of listening to music at around 80% of the volume can cause noise induced hearing loss!
If you really want to give your child a gift, give them the gift of safe listening practices. Invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones that will eliminate background noise so that your child can focus on the sounds they want to hear without needing to crank up the volume unnecessarily. Hearing loss is irreversible, but thankfully, it is also preventable for the most part. Teach your child to engage in safe listening practices. Children learn best by watching you, so lead by example and practice safe listening habits yourself. Start taking care of your child’s hearing health today so that they can continue to enjoy their favorite tunes for all of their days to come.
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