With consumer electronics among the most wanted gifts this holiday, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is reminding parents that, if misused, electronics with headphone capability can be harmful to their child's hearing. ASHA recommends that parents monitor their child's usage and volume levels while modeling safe listening behaviors when using their own electronics.
ASHA's concern is supported by a new December 2012 University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health that shows two thirds of parents with children ages 17 and younger support hearing screenings. This is especially true for parents of tweens and teenagers. "Children in these age groups may develop hearing loss as time goes on, possibly from extended listening to loud noise, such as through personal, portable listening devices like MP3 players," according to Jaynee Handelsman, PhD, director of pediatric audiology for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
Children who use electronics with headphone capability for hours daily—studies and surveys repeatedly report—and kids who don't know how to use these technologies safely may harm their hearing.
"A 2012 ASHA national poll showed that 84% of parents are concerned that the misuse of electronics with headphone capability is damaging the hearing of children," ASHA President Shelly S. Chabon, PhD, CCC-SLP, says. "Seventy-five percent of parents polled say that teaching the proper use of this technology is important, yet only 50% of parents have discussed safe listening with their children."
Because of these parental concerns about protecting children's hearing, Dr. Chabon recommends the following three safety tips for listening to electronics with headphone capability:
- Turn down the volume (a good guide is no more than half volume).
- Give your ears a rest and take listening breaks.
- Model safe listening behaviors for others; do not value blaring music or other sounds and do wear hearing protection in noisy environments.
If you are concerned about your child's hearing and want to find a local certified audiologist who works with children, go to ASHA's ProSearch (www.asha.org/findpro). To find out more about using electronics with headphone capability safely, visit www.listentoyourbuds.org and www.facebook.com/listentoyourbuds.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 150,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders. www.asha.org.