Monitoring Children and Headphones
January 14, 2017
There are many children’s headphones on the market today, but new information shows how dangerous these products may be on children’s hearing. Parents often opt to purchase headphones specifically slated for maintaining a safe listening volume. Many children’s headphones claim to do just that, therefore protecting kids from listening to music too loudly. The Wirecutter, a New York Times-owned product review website, found that at least half of the children’s headphones on the market do not restrict volume like they claim. These headphones can pose a serious hazard to children’s hearing by allowing for unsafe, high volume levels.
Many kid and teen-geared headphones claim to rely on volume-limiting technology. The goal of these products is to prevent too high of a volume that could damage a child’s hearing. But the truth is that out of 30 types of children’s headphones that The Wirecutter tested, more than half of them allowed for such a high volume of music to be played that they could seriously injure a child’s ability to hear.
A 2015 study revealed that roughly two-thirds of adolescents listen to music every day and that one-half of kids between the ages of 8 and 12 do. Most times kids are using earbuds or headphones, so the devices are much closer to the inner ear. More than one-half of the thirty sets of children’s headphones tested played audio from 85 to 114 decibels. At that level, listening is safe for less than three minutes. The louder the music or audio is, the shorter the safe amount of time to listen to it is.
It is common for kids and teenagers to pop in headphones to cut out background noise. And, the louder the volume, the greater the likelihood of damage to their hearing. There are many earbud and headphone options that can limit these outside noises. Many pediatric audiologists recommend taking this route to insure protecting your child’s hearing.
Protecting the hearing of adolescents and children is important, because recent studies have shown that hearing loss may be going up in that age group. The rate of hearing loss in adolescent females specifically has increased, which could be indicative of consequences of louder audio and volume consumption. One reason for this is that adolescent males more typically engage in louder activities, but now females are catching up with this trend.
Although 85 decibels is considered to be the limit for somewhat safe music and audio, there are other considerations for protecting hearing. Another important tip is to monitor and supervise children and teens. It is not only the volume that matters but also the duration, taking a breather from listening every hour or two can be helpful. Even when someone is listening to something with earbuds or headphones, a good rule of thumb is that a kid should be able to hear you ask them a question. This recommendation comes from the director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. He says that when a child is within arm’s length of their parent or caregiver, they should absolutely be able to hear you speak. If they cannot hear you, it implies that they may be listening at a volume that could damage their hearing.
Children and teens are going to continue to listen to music, watch movies or listen to audio books, especially when around other noises or distractions. No one is recommending that parents or caregivers refuse to allow their children to use these products. That said, it is crucial to supervise your children and teens, as well as doing a bit of research on what types of headphones and earbuds are the safest, most volume-restricting ones on the market. By doing this, you increase your chances of keeping your children’s ears safe and healthy.
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