A majority of parents — 70 percent — are concerned about their children developing hearing damage from listening to music players, tablets and smartphones, according to a new national poll released this week. Seven in 10 parents are concerned about future hearing damage, and 86 percent think their children listen to their devices at volumes that are too loud.
Commissioned by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and conducted by YouGov, the polling also shows that despite concerns, over half of parents plan to purchase a tech-related gift for their child this holiday season.
“It’s very important that families have the tools to protect this generation’s hearing, especially in light of the World Health Organization reporting that 1.1 billion young people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening to devices and exposure to noisy leisure environments,” said Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP, ASHA 2019 President, in a prepared statement.
The poll also revealed that more than one third of parents who plan on giving their child a tech device had not planned on talking to their kids about safe listening or hearing protection. Additionally, most parents who reported being concerned about risks to their child’s hearing have not taken preventative and protective steps beyond asking their kids to turn down the volume.
Safe Listening Tips from ASHA:
Turn the Volume Down. Some headphones marketed for children claim to have maximum noise output levels that won’t damage hearing. But studies have shown that these claims aren’t always reliable. Teach kids to keep the volume at half level.
Take Listening Breaks. Encourage kids to take listening breaks every hour, even if for just a few minutes. This can make a big difference to their hearing health.
Model Safe Listening. Practice what you preach. Be mindful of your own volume and listening duration.
Shopping Tips from ASHA:
As you shop, consider whether products have the following:
Volume-Control Features. Devices and accessories with parental controls such as volume limiters can help with safe listening. As indicated, however, these aren’t always 100 percent reliable — so check in on the volume yourself, as well.
Noise-Cancelling Capabilities. Earbuds or headphones with noise-cancelling features can lessen the need to turn up the volume, since outside noise is reduced or eliminated.
Kid-Size Fit. A snug fit is important, as loose-fitting earbuds or headphones can cause sound leakage—and may be yet another reason to crank the volume.