Headphones and Earbuds

Sometimes as parents or caregivers, we might feel like earbuds are too good to be true. A child can listen to an audio book, watch a show on an airplane, or use a computer game without anyone else having to listen in. For many families, earbuds are lifesavers on car trips! And while earbuds do have many benefits, they are not without risks.

A particular kind of headphones, earbuds are distinct because rather than sitting on top of the ear, they are small "buds" that rest inside the ear itself. Most mobile devices these days come with a set of earbuds. Listening to earbuds at high volumes can be equivalent to being subject to the noises of a construction site. Of course, the sound from headphones is nowhere near as loud, but because of its proximity to your ear, it can result from hearing loss. Specifically, loud volumes can damage the hair cells within the inner ear, which are what transmit sound to the brain. That's the bad news. What's worse, is that hearing loss doesn't heal, it only can become more damaged (Teens Health from Nemours).

What can you do to protect your own ears and the hearing of children in your care? The most important thing to implement is moderation—both in volume and amount of time listening to earbuds. If you are listening at over 60% of the device's maximum volume, that's too loud! Larger, noise cancelling headphones are also a good option. Because they silence the noise around you, you don't have to listen at such a high volume.

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