Can Headphones Hurt Your Child’s Hearing?

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Yes, headphones can be detrimental to your child’s hearing.  Now let me clarify.  Not all headphones at any level are harmful but most headphones at the higher settings are harmful.  I’m talking about Noise Induced Hearing Loss and it is a problem that is growing in our youth today. In fact the American Academy of Audiology estimates that 5 million kids have noise-induced hearing loss!  What is more alarming is that noise induced hearing loss is entirely preventable.

Loud noises can damage the fragile structures of the inner ear leading to long term hearing loss. This is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).  I remember my grandmother warning me or the danger of listening to my stereo to loud and she was right.  Loud music in the car or in the house can be harmful but even more of a growing problem is loud music in headphones.  As tech gadgets have become ever more prevalent and at ever younger ages, so has listening with headphones.

Headphones offer an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss because parents can’t even tell what is happening.  It is hard for a parent to know there is a danger when they don’t know the headphones are in use or when they have to guess at a safe sound level.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss” and yet “an MP3 player at maximum volume is 105 decibels”.  So most parents are left trusting their child’s judgement on what is too loud.

“Every morning I’d drive my daughter Niki to school, and I could hear the music from her headphones over the car radio. I would ask, ‘Is that too loud?’ But she always told me ‘No.’” said father, Dave Russell. Fast forward a couple of years and his daughter was diagnosed with NIHL at school and her doctor said the likely cause was listening to her headphones too loud for too long.  Russell went on to found Puro Sound Labs Headphones, a high-quality headphone with a maximum volume that is safe for the inner ear.  Smart idea, right?  There are a few more brands that have picked up on this safe solution to headphone usage as well.

To protect your child from noise-induced hearing loss, make sure their headphones and stereos are set no higher than 75-80 decibels.  Use earplugs or other protective devises when you are attending a loud activity.  Spread the word and help end this alarming rise in NIHL.

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