The world has certainly gotten louder than when you were a kid, and these days, there are so many different ways to listen to music and media. As you navigate you child through the world, it is crucial to protect their hearing and also impart on them best practices to protect their own hearing. Here are five ways:
The 60-60 rule is: listen to music or other media for only 60 minutes a day, at 60% of the volume. This level is recommended by hearing professionals to protect hearing. Lengthy exposure to loud sounds contributes to longer-term noise-induced hearing loss. Also, choose to listen to music or media through speakers that are further away; when sounds are played closer to the ear, there is more potential for hearing damage.
iPads, iPods, smart phones, and other portable devices are ubiquitous nowadays, and with their ability to hold thousands of songs on a long battery life, kids may listen to music or play games on their devices for hours, at a high volume. The good thing is, with new technology comes new innovation: there are a plethora of apps on Apple and Android that allow parents to control settings on their kids’ devices. A search will give you a list of options; some top performers are Sound Sanity and Lock the Volume. Devices also allow you to lock in desired settings for volume restrictions by changing options in the Settings apps.
Those little earbud headphones that come with electronic devices can do serious harm to your child’s ears. Their placement in the ear canal poses a great risk when sounds are played even at a moderate volume. Due to the proximity to the eardrum, earbuds actually add a few extra decibels to the volume that is being played. Additionally, they are ineffective at canceling out background noise in an environment and as such, earbud wearers tend to turn the volume up even higher in order to hear through them. If your child will be hearing headphones, consider a pair of high-quality, noise-canceling headphones, and again, follow the 60-60 rule.
Protective ear plugs are commonly used in occupations surrounded by loud sounds, such as an airfield or a construction site or even a rock concert. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow was praised for custom-fitting her two kids with protective earplugs while making the concert circuit with her former rock musician partner. If you find yourself in noisy situations with your kids often, such as live music shows, or even on the subway train, consider a pair of custom-fitted protective ear plugs to save their ears from harmful sounds with high decibels.
As you know, there are many teachable moments in your life with your child. Your child might complain about how loud the lawn mower is in the backyard or when you go see that summer blockbuster at the movies. In these moments, gently remind your child that hearing loss is caused by a great number of factors in our daily life, and that hearing loss is permanent. One great activity is to consider the decibels of sounds in your life. For example, the whisper of a human voice, the buzz of a mosquito and the babbling of a brook are sounds that will be lost to your ears if you experience even moderate hearing loss. Share the enjoyable, safe sounds with your child, and make sure they know when to move away from the harmful ones.