The Problem with Headphones and Children

There are 48 million Americans with hearing loss; this number has actually doubled within the past 30 years. Children in the Provo and Lehi area are at a growing risk of developing hearing loss, specifically noised-induced hearing loss caused by the increase in use of personal music players.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud noises. This type of hearing loss is permanent. A simple way to prevent this type of damage is to understand what type of sounds can cause it. Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Anything over 85 dB (food processor) can cause damage after eight hours. Anything over 100 dB (lawnmower) can cause damage within 15 minutes. Anything over 120 dB (chain saw) can cause immediate damage.

Researchers and audiologists have been busy conducting studies on the effects of the increase in use of personal music players. One study found that 25 percent of people who use personal music players are exposed to daily noise levels that can cause damage. A 2010 study found that standard earbuds attached to an iPod set to its maximum volume produces an average sound level of 96 dB. This level is higher than what is legally allowed in any workplace. Another study found that 90 percent of all adolescents listen to music using earbuds; almost half of those individuals use a high-volume setting that can cause hearing loss.

Provo and Lehi audiologists recommend using the 60/60 rule. This rule states that you should listen to music at 60 percent of the volume for 60 minutes a day, since music at this volume for this length of time will not cause any harm to your hearing.

This rule is especially helpful for children, as it can help them control their use of personal music players. While this is a great idea in theory, we all know children don’t always listen to us, even when the rule is put in place for their best interest. Below are some suggestions that can help you prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

  • Replace your child’s in-ear bud style headphones with an over-the-ear model.
  • Set a sound limit. Many new music players enable you to set a listening limit through parental controls. These settings can even be protected by a password.
  • Purchase headphones designed specifically for kids. These typically come with a lower-than-normal maximum volume level.

If you have any questions about how to protect your child against noise-induced hearing loss, contact your local Provo, Lehi & Orem audiologist. Protecting your child’s hearing when they are young can help ensure they do not need a hearing aid when they are older.