When headphones entered our lives, probably nobody was thinking about their disadvantages and all the negative consequences of their use on our hearing. People could finally shut out the noisy outside world even while standing in the middle of it. They could dive into the world of their own thoughts without other people bothering them. They could listen to anything they wanted and nobody knew what they were listening to. This made people very happy.
However, as the headphone popularity grew, the manufacturers started their mass production. The mass production made the consequences of excessive headphone use more obvious and that’s when the doctors and journalists started advising people to be more careful when using headphones because they could damage their hearing.
Sadly, by then, headphones were so popular that even very young children were using them. This happened because children find wearing headphones interesting and parents consider it great solution whenever they have to do something important that requires the kids to be quiet. Truth to be told, headphones are great for situations like long-distance trips, especially if you have to drive with your kids constantly talking, laughing, asking questions or fighting. The manufacturers started making so-called children’s headphones in different colors and with different prints that amaze kids. Many of these headphones have limited loudness to the level that won’t hurt children’s ears.
How Children’s Headphones Affect Your Child’s Hearing?
The point is that the name “children’s headphones” doesn’t guarantee the headphones will be better for your child. You can find so many products on the market that have been produced and sold for years in enormous quantities. They aren’t good for us but they are still being sold. Not only headphones, there are bad food, drinks, etc. The manufacturers have only one goal – to make as much money as possible. And even more. You have to accept the fact that they don’t care. They would write anything on the package in order to get more customers.
This kind of headphones is supposed to be safer for wearing because the manufacturers are supposed to limit the volume. If regular headphones can deliver 120 dB sound, children’s headphones should be limited to 85 decibels max, or even quieter. Many parents buy these headphones hoping that they will protect their children. However, they don’t test them or they don’t even know how to do that and they don’t actually know if the headphones are too loud or not.
A group of scientists has tested children’s headphones made by different manufacturers. Sadly, half of the tested headphones were louder than they were supposed to be. This means that the headphones that can actually damage your child’s hearing are being sold without any limitations and this is why you should be very careful when buying them.
The problem lies in the fact that these headphones can cause the same problems as the regular ones. If the volume is not limited and they are used constantly and for long periods of time without breaks, your child can get some kind of ear infection, the earwax will start to pile up in his/her ears, and you may even notice the first signs of hearing loss.
Ear infections are the least problematic of all the previously mentioned. The infections or excessive accumulation of earwax are usually caused by prolonged wearing of headphones. Even wearing headphones for several hours can cause these problems because your ears and your skin can’t really breathe under the headphones. Other problems are more serious.
One of the forms of damaged hearing is tinnitus or, as some people call it, “buzzing in ears”. Researches have shown that tinnitus is more common than we could ever imagine. Tinnitus can’t be cured, only treated (just like any form of hearing loss) and it can affect your child’s mood, ability to sleep peacefully, to play with peers, etc. If they are too young, they might not even be able to explain the problem they have and that’s why we think it’s important to learn how to recognize the first signs of the problem.
How Can We Recognize the First Signs of Hearing Loss?
When adults are considered, it is much easier to recognize the first signs of hearing loss. When it comes to children, things get more complicated, especially if we speak about very young children. The thing is, they don’t know how to explain what’s bothering them because they don’t know what’s wrong. They will probably try to signalize something is wrong but you have to understand what’s the problem. Here are some of the most common signs of hearing problems that your child might manifest.
- If you notice that your child is turning the volume up every time you’re watching TV or listening to music together, you should take the kid to the doctor and check it out.
- If you start getting the impression that your child is getting worse at following your directions or the directions his teacher or friends give him, it is also better to see a doctor than wait for it to get worse.
- If you start getting the impression that your child is asking you to repeat your questions too often, take it to the doctor and run some tests. In the beginning, it may look like your kid is ignoring you but if it keeps happening, it most surely isn't just his/her temper.
- If your child starts complaining about some weird noises in his head and ears and comparing them with buzzing animals, wind blowing, whistling, etc. don't panic because it doesn't mean your child is crazy. It can be tinnitus. It is easier to notice it than the previously mentioned signs because the child would most certainly complain about the noise in the head, it will be more nervous and easily get irritated. You just have to read between the lines and see the real problem before it gets worse.
How Can We Help Our Children to Have Fun and Stay Healthy?
One of the main points of this article is that hearing problems can’t be cured. You can try to treat them but they will still be there. Once it gets damaged, it stays damaged and that’s the fact.
What you can do is to prevent the whole thing by taking care of your health and avoid giving headphones to your children whenever it is possible. When they really have to use them, you can do the following things in order to lower the risk of hearing damage.
- Listening to music at moderate volumes
One of the two crucial things you can do to avoid hearing problems is to lower the volume down. Experts would always recommend listening to music at maximum 60% volume. If you think this is too quiet, try this - whenever you aren’t sure about the loudness of your music, ask a person next to you if the music can be heard. If the person can hear the music, lower the volume down because if someone else can hear it, it is already too loud. The percentage of music leaked through the headphones depends on the type of headphones but this rule can still be applied.
- Taking the headphones off periodically
The second important thing is to take the headphones off from time to time because taking a break will mean a lot to your skin and to your ears. By taking breaks you let your skin breathe, avoid earwax piling up, lower the risk of infections and save your inner ear from getting damaged.
Apart from this, you can help your children by buying them special kind of headphones that lower down the risk of hearing loss (of course, along with following the previously mentioned advice).
- Buy full-size ANC headphones
Full-size headphones go around your ears and they don’t cut the airflow like earbuds do. They don’t go directly into your ear canal so there is some space between the earcups and your ear. If the full-size headphones support active noise cancellation at the same time, you have the right thing. Noise canceling headphones block external noise so you won't have to turn the volume up in order to hear your music better.
- Use bone conduction headphones