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Tips to Preserve Your Child’s Hearing During the Holidays

Bells may be ringing, but your kids' ears shouldn't be!

Hearing loss that results from exposure to loud noise, called noise-induced hearing loss, is of particular concern for today's children. One of the main reasons is the widespread use of personal audio technology and other smart devices.

World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk for hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise—and they point to noisy technology as a primary source.

When not used safely, ear buds or headphones, present a significant danger to a child's hearing. Of course, these devices and accessories also happen to top many holiday wish lists. Beyond tech gifts, other holiday hearing hazards include noisy toys for the youngest of children and noisy gatherings such as parties and concerts.

In this article, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association list tips for protecting your kids' hearing while enjoying the best of the holidays.

Noisy Technology

Smart devices, state-of-the-art headphones, and other tech gifts are among the most coveted items for kids of almost all ages. The products aren't bad, but it's critical to use them safely:

  • Teach safe listening. Help kids protect their ears by teaching them to turn the volume down (keep it to half level) and take listening breaks (ears benefit greatly from the rest).

  • Model good listening habits. As a parent, it is critical that you practice what you preach when it comes to safe listening. Little ears are listening.

  • Choose wisely. Certain features or products may help with volume control. Noise-cancelling headphones are often a good idea, as kids won't need to turn the volume up to drown out outside noise. Look for ear buds or headphones that fit the child well, which will prevent sound leakage and again reduce the need to turn the volume up to hear. Need a practical tip? If a you are an arm's length away, your child wearing headphones should still be able to hear you when asked a question.

What Parents Need to Know About "Kid Safe" Headphones and Other Products:

According recommendations from the WHO and International Telecommunication Union, to prevent hearing damage, children should listen to devices at volumes no higher than 75 decibels (a decibel is unit of measurement for sound), for no longer than 40 hours a week.

Many headphones and other products marketed as "kid safe" limit the volume at 85, 90 or even higher decibels. And upon testing, many are even louder than what they claim. So, while these products may be a good start, parents should still give it a listen themselves and teach kids to dial the volume down. Remember, headphone manufacturers aren't interested in your child's hearing; they are interested in selling products. There is no mandatory standard that restricts the maximum sound output for listening devices or headphones sold in the United States.

Noisy Toys

Toys designed for infants and toddlers may be noisy enough to cause hearing damage—especially since young children hold objects close to their face/ears.

  • Check your list. Before heading to the toy store or shopping online, check the annual Sight & Hearing Association's Noisy Toys study to see if any of the products listed there are on your child's wish list.

  • Listen up before purchasing. Pay attention to how loud a toy sounds, and consider a different option, if necessary.

  • Make a minor do-it-yourself modification. An easy way to reduce the noise is to put a piece of tape over the speaker. Alternatively, you can remove the batteries. Instantly, you've made the toy a much safer product.

Noisy Environments

Holiday parties and concerts, sporting events, and other gatherings are part of the season. Make sure to be mindful of the noise level.

  • Use hearing protection. Bring earplugs or ear muffs with you when there is potential for loud noise. This is a cheap, easy, and effective way to preserve kids' (and adults') hearing.

  • Keep a distance from noise sources. Don't let kids stand near speakers or other noise emitters.

  • Leave if noise is enough to cause discomfort. Ringing and pain are signs that ears need a break. If your child is complaining, covering his or her ears, or seems uncomfortable, consider an early exit.

Concerned About Your Child's Hearing?

Even minor hearing loss can significantly impact a child's development, academic success, and social interactions, among other things. It's important that you act early if you have concern.

  • Learn the early signs of hearing loss and schedule a hearing evaluation. Visit for more information about hearing loss. You can search for a certified audiologist to provide your child with a thorough hearing evaluation at

Additional Information:

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Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association/ASHA Leader
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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