On the lookout for seasonal hearing hazards
This summer, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is urging parents and caregivers to be mindful of seasonal hearing hazards that could put children at risk for noise-induced hearing loss.
Chief among these hazards—which are especially prominent during the summer months—are unsafe listening to personal audio devices and exposure to noisy public events/venues such as concerts, sporting events, and fireworks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion young people, or nearly 50% of people ages 12–35 worldwide, are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds.
“Summer generally means more leisure time for children and young adults, which may lead to an increased usage of personal technology devices—often with accompanying earbuds or headphones,” explains Shari Robertson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, 2019 ASHA President. “Unfortunately, many young people listen to their devices in an unsafe manner—meaning they are regularly listening for too long, and at too-loud volumes—and this risk is magnified with more time on their hands during the summer.”
Unlike other forms of hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable. However, once it occurs, it is irreversible.
ASHA recommends that parents and caregivers:
- Talk to children about the importance of their hearing
- Closely monitor the use of devices
- Have children take hourly listening breaks
- Set volume limiters if they are available (and absent a decibel level indicator, keep the volume level on devices at no higher than halfway)
- Provide ample “device-free” time for summer activities
- Model safe listening for children and teens