Are Your Kids Going Deaf?

girl and ear budsTURN THAT MUSIC DOWN!! I remember cringing every time I heard my parents shout that familiar phrase when I was growing up. It was, in fact, one of the most common mantras for the parents of Baby Boomers. But once headphones made their appearance and gained in popularity, that particular argument was put to rest–for awhile anyway.

But before long, the headphones got smaller and smaller, Silicon Valley cranked out zillions of toys to attach them to and the state-of-the-art technology behind it all let us take them with us wherever we went. So now we have a new generation of kids, who at younger and younger ages, are glued to their ear buds 24/7. And the classic parent-kid “turn it down” argument has resumed – big time.

This time around though, there are serious reasons to make sure that your kids are listening – to you – that is. Because believe it or not, more that five million kids between the ages of 6 and 19 have hearing loss directly related to noise. According to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, this type of hearing loss can happen at any age and can become permanent.

If that’s not enough to shake you up, consider this: a 10 year school district study by the Sight and Hearing Association found that the incidence of hearing loss in 8th graders had increased by 400%. This is really shocking and something we moms must pay attention to because hearing loss in kids often goes unnoticed and can lead to speech and language delays, social and peer-related problems, and difficulties with academics. Not good.

But before you panic, there is some really good news to go along with the bad: this type of hearing loss (due to noise exposure) is 100% preventable. That’s right, it is one of the bad things that could happen to your kids that you can absolutely prevent.

But how? Well, if your child is wearing headphones and you can hear the sound when you’re standing next to him, it’s too loud. And a Harvard Medical School study found that the smaller headphones were much more likely to cause hearing loss than the larger ones, with the ear bud type being the worst. The smaller they are, the higher the output level, at any volume control level.

The Guardian Wired Headphones are a relatively new product that might help you figure out how loud is too loud is. Put out by Hamilton Electronics, a company that has been serving the educational market since 1933, this headphone set has LED lights that glow green when the sound is at a safe level and red when the sound is loud enough to be causing irreversible damage. So if mom or dad “sees red,” the argument about whether the volume is too high becomes moot. And it can help your child learn how to tell what’s safe as well.

Headphones are the major contributor but you need to watch the volume on the the television and stereo too. One more thing, don’t let your kids go to sleep with headphones on. Their brains, as well as their ears, need a good long break from sound and stimulation at night.

Sometimes we just don’t realize how loud our lives have become. So, to be on the safe side, go ahead and do what your parents told you to do in the first place and turn that music down (and get the bigger headphones, too). Wait, does this mean they were right, again??

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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5 responses to “Are Your Kids Going Deaf?”

  1. DAILY FIND: Protect Those Ears

    […] while you’re at it, take another look at the one we posted here at MOC, Are Your Kids Going Deaf?  Email This […]

  2. Cedar Cloyd

    I am a Dj and I feel bad because at my High School dances I run a SPL of about 105db on the dance floor. I personalyt wear ear plugs along with my other DJ. Kids want it loud, and I agree with the kids, but they need to protect them selves. I’m 17 and a senior in High School and I protect my hearing.

  3. Caleb Worley

    kids know the dangers. myself included. but it just sounds better loud. i generally try to steer away from earphones and headphones, rather, i just use the surround sound system on my tv and hook my ipod to it. and put it as loud as it goes. the only problem with that is when the neighbors call the cops/: but its worth it :D

  4. Warning: Hearing Loss and Headphones – Is Anyone Listening?

    […] You can also get more great information about this at […]

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