Children, Headphones & Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Children in San Diego and throughout the country are at an ever growing risk of developing hearing loss. The number of Americans with hearing loss has actually doubled within the past 30 years. This steep increase can be partially attributed to the use of personal music players.

children headphones and noise-induced hearing loss

San Diego audiologists explain that the danger of a personal music player is noise-induced hearing loss. Every sound is measured in decibels (dB). Listening to anything over 85 dB (heavy city traffic) can cause damage after eight hours. Listening to anything over 100 dB (motorcycle) can cause damage within 15 minutes. Listening to anything over 120 dB (jackhammer) can cause damage immediately.


Audiologists have been conducting research on personal music players. One study found that 25 percent of those who use a personal music player are exposed to daily noise that is high enough to cause damage. A 2010 study found that a standard set of earbuds connected to an iPod set to its maximum volume produced an average sound level of 96 dB. This is higher than what is legally allowed in most workplaces. Another study found that 90 percent of all adolescents listen to music using earbuds; almost half listened at a high-volume setting.


The simplest way to correct this problem would be to turn the music down. But if you are a parent you know how much children enjoy following rules. Your San Diego audiologist recommends implementing the 60/60 rule. This rule states that you can listen to your music at 60 percent of its maximum volume for 60 minutes a day.  Researchers have determined that this volume for this length of time will not cause any harm to your hearing.


Below are some things to try if your child still listens to their music too loudly.

  • Replace your child’s in-ear bud-style headphones with an over-the-ear model.
  • Set a sound limit. Most music players have a parental option. With this you can set a password-protected listening limit.
  • Purchase kid-safe headphones. Headphones designed specifically for children often have a lower-than-normal maximum volume level.


If you need any additional help figuring out how to protect your child from noise-induced hearing loss, contact your local San Diego audiologist.

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