Doctors say kids are at higher risk for hearing loss. Dr. Rachel Wood, an audiologist with the LSU Health and Sciences Center, studies and treats hearing loss patients, and increasingly she is seeing younger patients. Dr. Wood says that there are a “growing number of factors that cause hearing loss.” One particular concern is that “[c]hildren especially can plug into their phone and crank up the volume, turn up the sound effects on video games, or even watch rock concerts on their computers.”
Dr. Wood finds headphones to be “especially troubling,” stating:
There are tiny sensors in your inner ear that are very sensitive. Loud sounds damage those sensors, and if they’re destroyed, they will never grow back, which leads to hearing loss. The amount of damage is based on the volume of the sound and how close the sound is to your ear. Since headphones put the sound right next to those sensors, it magnifies the damage.
So what can you do to protect your child’s hearing? Dr. Wood suggests that parents set volume limits on electronic devices such as phones. She also advises parents to impose time limits for using headphones and have their children take a break every 30 to 60 minutes. Finally, if your children are going to events with loud noises, such as concerts or fireworks displays, hand them a pair of ear plugs. Purchased in bulk, ear plugs are a cheap and easy way to protect your children’s hearing.