Environmental noise is threatening to a child’s hearing, health, and their ability to learn. The American Academy of Otolaryngology estimates that three million children under the age of 18 have some degree of a hearing problem. Parents must examine their homes and their child’s activities to ensure their children receive adequate quiet time.
A Serious Concern
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts a child’s speech, language, cognitive, social, and emotional behavior. A study of 110 children ages 6 to 14 by the National Hearing Conservation Association found the average noise level during the day to be 90 decibels. This number, comparable to the level of city traffic, increased to 115 decibels on the playground. Typical culprits that harm children’s hearing include:
Video arcades. Noise at a video arcade can easily exceed 110 decibels which compare to factory machinery.
Computer games. Children need to turn the volume down. These systems can reach 135 decibels which are equal to the noise created by a jackhammer.
Headphones and earbuds. Music players and smartphones produce sounds as high as 110 decibels. A child listening to music this loud for lengthy periods will surely endure some level of hearing loss.
Movies. A typical action movie can reach beyond 90 decibels with no problem. It seems like the louder, the better is the theme with these type of motion pictures.
The Problem Of Noisy Toys
Toys can reach noise levels of 110 decibels or louder. To make matters worse, manufacturers do not warn parents as to the dangers these toys can pose to their children’s ears. One group is working to change this problem. TheSight & Hearing Association (SHA) of Minnesota is testing a variety of toys and alerting parents about the dangers of potential ear-damaging toys on the market. The group examines toys near the ear and at arm’s length where children typically play with their toys instead of the distances that toy manufacturers usually test them. The association offers these tips to help guide parents in their toy purchases:
Listen to a toy before you buy it to gauge the volume of the device.
Report a loud toy to the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800/638-2772 or to the Sight & Hearing Association at 800/992-0424.
Apply masking or packing tape over the speaker of the toy to reduce the volume.
Buy toys with volume controls.
Parents And Noise Reduction
Parents can provide an environment for their children that provides a quiet place for reading, talking, and listening to each other without all of the noise. Here are a few tips:
Books. Not only is it quiet, but reading to children helps them develop their reading skills and brings you both closer together.
Educational toys. Computer games with educational themes, puzzles, construction sets, and card games are excellent choices for providing a low-volume play environment.
Quiet movies. A family-oriented film is a great way to spend quiet quality time with your child.
Libraries and museums. An outing to either one of these destinations provides quiet family fun.
Hearing loss induced by noise is cumulative and detrimental. It happens slowly over time, and it is irreversible. Because of this, it is imperative to protect your child’s hearing at an early age. Monitor their activities, check their toys, and spend quality time with your child doing quiet activities. Your child’s hearing is precious, so do your part for noise reduction today.