All sorts of things can put our hearing at risk: sporting events, concerts, parties, nightclubs and even just listening to music too loud in the car. Earplugs and other forms of protection for our hearing have become increasingly important, but more so for children and young children, who are even more vulnerable to damage from loud noises.
Of course, not all noise is dangerous, but it is important to understand the risk associated with loud noise and to put preventative measures into place to help decrease the risk of harm to hearing, whatever the age.
1) Encourage hearing protection in noisy environments.
If your child is attending an event with a potential for exposure to prolonged and loud noise, they need to wear hearing protection. Decibel lowering earmuffs and foam earplugs can help to protect the ears from noise damage, but still allow the child to hear what is going on.
2) Set volume limits on devices
Children and teenagers can suffer hearing damage from having earphones in with the volume on too loud. The majority of cell phones, tablets, computers, game systems, and televisions have settings that stop the device from going above a particular volume level. To maintain a safe noise level, it is recommended that you set the volume at no higher than 70% of the maximum volume.
3) Invest in good quality headphones
Most people appear to prefer using earbuds to listen to music or their devices, probably because they are more discreet. However, for children particularly, good quality over the ear headphones are a much better – and safer – option. Not only do they protect the ears better, but they are also a lot more comfortable and usually have a much better sound quality. There are also some that do not allow the volume to go over a safe level, so even little fingers can’t adjust the settings!
4) Pay attention to what your child is doing
Of course, this is important anyway, but paying attention and limiting your child’s exposure to loud games, practicing the drums or whatever other noisy activity they like to do will reduce the risk of damage to their ears.
5) Set a good example
The best way of teaching a child to do something is by leading by example. If they see you taking care of your ears, they are much more likely to follow in your footsteps. Don’t tell them to wear earplugs at a noisy concert if you aren’t prepared to do the same, and show them how taking care of your ears, attending regular hearing evaluations and limiting your exposure to loud noise will protect hearing in the long run.
The vast majority of noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. Your child might not be able to recognize when their environment is too noisy, but you can, and you can help them to take the steps we have listed above to protect their ears and allow them to grow up with healthy hearing.