If you have a tween, you’re probably accustomed to seeing long wires hanging from their ears. During shopping trips, in the car, at soccer practice, or even when you’re trying to have a conversation, kids are constantly plugged into personal music devices.
Having an appreciation of music is a wonderful quality, but studies show that tweens could be paying the price for playing too-loud music through ear buds for hours on end. The Journal of Pediatrics estimated that 12.5 percent of children aged six to 19 years have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)!
WHAT IS NIHL?
NIHL is hearing loss that occurs over time by overexposure to loud noise. Margaret Cheesman, a professor at University of Western Ontario, says, “With excessive noise exposure, the cells in the inner ear become damaged and, in some cases, deteriorate completely. These cells are called ‘hair-cells’ because they are sensitive little hair-like structures. When enough of these cells are destroyed, a person may develop hearing loss.”
WHAT IS SAFE?
Sound is measured in decibels, with 85dB considered to be a safe level. A normal conversation is about 60dB, whereas a personal music device on high can reach 112dB. It isn’t easy for the average person to measure decibels. Gael Hannan of the Hearing Foundation of Canada says, “If someone is listening to music and can’t understand what someone else is saying to them, their music is too loud. If you’re near someone and you can hear the music coming from their headphones, it’s too loud.”
SIGNS OF HEARING LOSS
- Sounds appear muffled.
- Ringing in the ears.
- People don’t seem to speak clearly.
- A need to ramp up the volume of the TV or radio.
AVOID HEARING LOSS
- Keep your MP3 player or iPod at 60 percent of the maximum volume.
- Wear over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds sit further down in the ear and can add 5dB.
- Limit the duration of listening time.
AVOID SHARING EARPHONES
If two children each wear one side, there is a tendency to crank up the volume to compensate. Do not listen to MP3 players in noisy places because volume will be turned up to drown out background noise.
USE THE 60/60 RULE: 60 percent of the maximum volume for only 60 minutes at a time.