Thanks to improvements in technology over the past ten years, listening to music has become easier and more comfortable than ever before. However, there is a downside: some of these technological advances, such as ear bud headphones and personal audio devices, are contributing to a sharp rise in noise-induced hearing loss among young people, according to the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
The World Health Organization estimated last year that approximately 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk, as a result of harmful sound levels from personal audio devices, noisy entertainment venues, and sporting events. Learn more about how this can be prevented.
Educating Through Music–The “Listen to Your Buds” Campaign Ten years ago, ASHA launched their creative plan to halt the rise of noise-related hearing loss: The Listen to Your Buds Concert Series. Now it’s back, and touring Philadelphia schools (the concert series was introduced to six elementary schools for the first time this week). This campaign helps to educate grade-school children about using technology safely, by bringing award-winning musicians to each school to perform, and speak with students about how they can protect their hearing now and in the future. This time around, jazz musicians Jazzy Ash & the Leaping Lizards and Oran Etkin will alternate headlining the concerts.
Joy Peterson, Au.D., CCC-A, manager of audiology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, shed some light on this campaign in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer this week. Read on to find out more about this exciting initiative.
A Generation at Risk, and The Necessity of Early Education According to Dr. Peterson, public polling has revealed that the vast majority of children now use technology devices such as MP3 players, tablets and smartphones–along with ear buds or headphones. While this is not a necessarily a problem in itself, many young people are not familiar with “safe listening practices” and may be inadvertently damaging their hearing every day.
Experts believe that the growing popularity of tech devices, combined with the lack of hearing-safety knowledge could be putting a whole generation of young adults at risk.
The good news? Noise-related hearing loss is completely preventable, and according to Dr. Peterson, the key is instilling good listening habits early on: “With the Buds campaign, the idea is to get the safe listening message to younger children before they start to develop the bad habits with technology—like cranking the volume for hours on end. So, educating teenagers is important, but let’s start talking to them earlier—when our messages may make even more of an impact.”
Safe Listening Tips from the “Buds” Campaign The Listen to Your Buds campaign aims to keep their message very simple by emphasizing two key rules for listening to music with personal devices:
1) Turn the volume down.
2) Give your ears a rest by taking listening breaks.
The campaign leaders have found elementary school-age children to be highly receptive to this simple message, along with the format of the concerts. Dr. Peterson says, of their mission: “We help them to appreciate the fact that their hearing is a gift—and something they wouldn’t want to lose.”
How Can Parents Help? Children often look to their parents’ actions as guidance. So, the first thing we must do as parents is make sure we are setting a good example by following safe listening practices ourselves.
Many smartphones come with a music volume limit which you can toggle in the settings, making sure that your child isn’t able to increase the volume to a damaging level. You can also provide earplugs and earmuffs designed to protect hearing in loud sound environments.
How Does Hearing Loss Affect Children In Particular? Hearing is critical to speech and language development, communication, and learning. Even so-called “minimal or mild” hearing loss can have a significant impact. Those with hearing loss may have difficulty with achieving in reading and math. Children with mild to moderate hearing loss achieve one to four grade levels lower, on average, than their peers with normal hearing. Some children also report feeling socially isolated as a result of hearing loss which can develop into feelings of low self-esteem. All of this points to the importance of preventing noise-induced hearing loss as well as early identification of any type of hearing problem.
Schedule an annual hearing test for your child at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids today!