THE ISSUE:

With 1.1 billion young people worldwide at risk of hearing loss from unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to noisy activities, TLC is reminding parents of simple ways they can help their children protect their hearing as we head into the summer leisure season. The message is a timely one, as May is recognized nationally as Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM).

SUMMER IS RISKIER:

Summer is always a time of heightened risk for kids since they have more free time on their hands—time they often use for gaming, scrolling TikTok, or streaming music on their devices, often with earbuds or headphones in or on their ears. This year, hearing experts are especially concerned, as many kids have already spent a full year online for school, using devices for 6 or more hours per day for educational purposes alone. The amount of time spent listening, coupled with volume, are the two factors that can put a person’s hearing at risk.

NOISE-INDUCED HEARING LOSS:

Children may be in danger of developing NIHL. NIHL is completely preventable, but once it occurs, it is irreversible. Although NIHL can develop from one excessively loud noise event, such as being near a loud bang, it more frequently occurs as a cumulative effect from noise exposure over time.

Guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend that children spend no more than 40 hours listening to a personal audio device per week, at levels no higher than 75 decibels, to prevent hearing damage.

STEPS TO PROTECT HEARING:

Turn the volume down (even on “volume-limiting” products).
Use noise-canceling earbuds/headphones.
Take regular listening breaks. Encourage kids to give their ears a rest and take hourly breaks, even if just for a few minutes.
Model safe use. Practice what you preach by watching your own volume and taking other prevention steps.
Help children appreciate their hearing. Talk to kids about why safe listening is important, so they understand that you aren’t just nagging.

Contact TLC’s Family Hearing Center if you are concerned about your child’s hearing: 301-738-1415