Updated: Jan 11, 2019
Are the above images familiar? You are about to go on a drive or flight and want to ensure your kids are entertained or at least not the kid that is crying on the aeroplane. So you buy them a pair of headphones, plug it in to your portable DVD player or tablet or smart device and hope they are content watching 5 reruns of Frozen or 15 episodes of the Wiggles.
Have you considered the hidden dangers associated with headphones for your child? I know, another one to add to the list, but your kids will thank you in the long run for it. The World Health Organisation estimates 1.1 billion people aged 12 to 35 years of age are at risk of noise induced hearing loss. WHO estimates this loss from recreational listening or activities, you can find out more about these statistics here. This means that kids or young adults using their headphones, air pods, ear buds or any personal audio device are putting their hearing and listening levels at risk from listening for too long and too loud a volume to their music, podcasts or movies. That's a frightening large number of kids and young adults potentially damaging their hearing.
The thing about noise induced hearing loss, which means permanent hearing loss as a result of any activity related to direct noise exposure, occupational included (but that's a blog for another day) is, it's 100% preventable.
Noise induced hearing loss is 100% preventable.
You can reduce and stop noise induced hearing loss from occurring. Here's how:
1. Monitor the decibel or volume that your child or you are listening too. The law (in Australia) for occupational noise levels states that 85dBA over an 8 hour day is a 'safe' amount of noise exposure, WHO reconfirms this level.
This means that 85dB is the maximum level you should be exposing your self too. When it comes to your headphones or personal audio device, setting the volume at 85dB is loud. In audiological terms 85dB is equivalent to a severe hearing loss.
As a rule fo thumb:
I would recommend that when you have your headphones on with the music going you and your brain should be able to access some background noise of your environment. This is deemed a safe listening level. If you can't access some background noise, reconsider the volume you have your headphones turned on too.
2. It doesn't matter what style of headphone or audio device you use. Style is preferential. However please be aware that the more a device sits in your ear, like an earbud, the lower the volume should be. See rule of thumb above for a safe listening level.
3. Teach your kids these behaviours now. Remember, it's hard to change behaviours as we grow up. If kids can understand safe listening levels from a young age, they will employ safe listening practices and habits for life.
This is important. As I see more teenagers and young adults with noise notches (permanent hearing loss) appearing in their hearing results, I worry that the message of hearing health care and safe listening isn't being heard or understood.
4. Have a break from using your audio devices. Reducing the exposure of noise to your ears is a good way for them to rest and recover.
5. If you are going to a concert or live music event, allow quieter days after to allow your ears to rest and recover from the loud noise exposure.
6. Use hearing protection when working with noise, around noise or on flights. Protect your ears to prevent noise induced hearing loss.
7. If you suspect hearing loss stop listening at louder levels, now.
In summary, how loud, how long and how often you listen to music or podcasts will affect the maximum time you should expose your ears too. In general the louder the volume, the less time should be spent listening to the music.
Give our online hearing screening tool a go (it's free, you just need to include your email address and name) and book an online hearing health consult for more information. Don't leave your hearing questions till later. You can prevent noise induced hearing loss now.
Hears 2 ears, Cheers Kat Penno