Audiologists are seeing a growing number of children in the American Fork, Utah area and around the U.S. developing hearing loss. Within only the last 30 years the number of people with hearing loss has actually doubled. Experts think this may be caused by the increase in popularity of personal music players.
Personal music players are especially troubling because they can cause noise-induced hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is a permanent type of hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises. How do you know if you are listening to something that is too loud? Sounds are measured in decibels. Listening to anything over 85 dB (heavy city traffic) can cause damage after eight hours. Exposure to sounds over 100 db (motorcycles) can cause damage within 15 minutes and any sound over 120 dB (jackhammer) can cause damage immediately.
A research study conducted in 2010 found that a personal music player set to its maximum volume being listened to with standard-issued earbuds produces an average sound level of 96 dB. This decibel level is higher than what is legally allowed in a workplace. Additional studies have also been conducted on this topic. One showed that about 25 percent of those who listen to personal music players are exposed to noise levels that are high enough to cause damage. Another study found that 90 percent of adolescents listen to music using earbuds and almost half of them listen at a high-volume setting.
If you ask any American Fork audiologist they will recommend turning the volume down; unfortunately, we all know simply telling a child this is not as easy as it sounds. Anyone listening to a personal music player should follow the 60/60 rule. This rule states that you should listen to music at 60 percent of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. Researchers have determined that this volume for this length of time will not cause any harm to one’s hearing.
If simply telling your child to follow this 60/60 rule does not work, your American Fork audiologist has come up with a list of suggestions.
- Replace your child’s in-ear bud-style headphones with over-the-ear models.
- Set a sound limit. Many music players have a parental control option which allows you to set a listening limit. This program is often protected by a password that only you know.
- Purchase kid-safe headphones. There are many headphones on the market designed specifically for children. These headphones have a lower than normal maximum volume level.
If you need any additional help figuring out how to protect your child from noise-induced hearing loss, contact your local audiologist. They will have more tips and tricks that you can use to talk to your kids about the importance of proper ear care.