The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, “An estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.” Arguably one of the main sources of this noise exposure is your child’s technological devices. In this post, we review how loud sounds cause damage, how loud too loud is and how to keep your child’s ears safe.
How Do Loud Sounds Cause Damage?
Within the inner ear is the cochlea, which is filled with fluid and lined with tiny hair cells called stereocilia. As sounds travel through the ears, the soundwaves move the fluid. This stimulates the hair cells and converts the soundwaves into electrical impulses. These travel to the brain via the auditory nerve to be interpreted as sound.
If dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia. Once damaged, they do not regenerate, and the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
When it comes to how loud is too loud, it really comes down to how long your child is exposed.
According to OSHA, the threshold that is considered safe is approximately 85 dB. This is about the volume of passing highway traffic or a bustling café. At this level, sounds are safe for about eight hours of exposure.
It’s important to note, however, if your child is listening for longer than eight hours, 85 dB is too loud. If your child is plugged into their music or videos all day, listening should be limited to less than 70 dB—about the volume of a washing machine or dishwasher.
How Can I Keep My Child’s Ears Safe?
You can help keep your child’s ears safe by:
- Investing in volume-limiting headphones. These ensure your child can’t crank up the volume louder than is safe.
- Getting noise-canceling headphones. Alternatively, another good option is noise-canceling headphones. These block out background noise so your child can hear their music clearly without having to turn up the volume.
- Setting volume controls on their devices. Most smartphones and tablets allow parents to set volume limits, so you can keep their ears safe without having to buy them new headphones or earbuds.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Evergreen Speech and Hearing Clinic today.