Pediatrics | Published November 2, 2020

Headphones and your child's hearing

You may have noticed that your children are using headphones more than usual. Online school, increased use of video chats to stay connected, or even watching shows give kids more opportunities and longer hours to use headphones. However, hearing is easily damaged from exposure to loud noise. The use of headphones, earbuds, and smart devices create particular concern for protecting your child's hearing. 

Hearing damage cannot be reversed, making it essential to take steps to protect your child's hearing. It is important to limit the volume of devices and headphones. Generally, children should listen to volumes no higher than 75 decibels. Decibels are the unit of measure for sound. 

Monitoring loudness can be tricky, especially with headphone use. Parents should listen to a child's headphones to understand how loud these devices can become. Be sure to check the volume of headphones routinely. If your child can hear you speaking at an average volume from an arm's length away, the headphones are likely at a safe volume. 

There are headphones designed for children to limit maximum loudness typically to 85 decibels. These are not risk-free but do offer the ability to limit noise exposure. A more expensive option is noise-canceling headphones, which reduce outside noise, allowing children to keep headphones at a lower volume. 

It's also important to monitor how long your child is exposed to noise. Especially as exposure to noise is cumulative and includes not just time wearing headphones but also practicing musical instruments and playing with noisy toys and games. It is important to limit back to back loud events such as headphone use, mowing the lawn, or practicing an instrument. Parents should consider the total exposure of sound throughout the day and schedule breaks to allow your child's ears to rest and recover. 

Be sure to model healthy listening habits for your children. Demonstrating your responsible use of headphones, limiting exposure to loud events, and managing noise exposure is important for healthy hearing for you and your child.

Minor hearing loss can impact a child's development, academic success, and social interactions. Taking early action is important if you have any concerns about your child's hearing. You can learn the early signs of hearing loss at http://IdentifytheSigns.org

 

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