Even though parents worry that listening to popular technology devices such as music players, tablets and smartphones can damage their children's hearing, they still plan to buy tech gifts for them this holiday season.

A poll conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association  found that of the more than 1,100 parents of children, 7 in 10 are concerned about their kids developing hearing damage from listening to tech devices and 86% think their children listen to their devices at volumes that are way too loud.

The polling also shows that despite these concerns, over half of parents still plan to purchase a tech-related gift for their child anyway this holiday season.

Paul Farrell, audiologist and the associate director of ASHA said there are ways parents can help protect their child's hearing. He said parents should encourage safe listening habits such as keeping volume on their devices at half level, taking listening breaks and modeling good listening habits themselves. Not only will kids be likely to follow a parent's lead, if the parent is also doing it and not just saying it, then they will be protecting their hearing as well.

When shopping for popular technology devices, Farrell said parents should look for devices with parental controls such as volume limiters. He said these are not fool-proof so it's important to check to make sure they are working as promised.

Invest in earbuds or headphones with noise-canceling features. That will lessen the need to turn up the volume.

"Also make sure that the fit of the headphones is kid-size. A snug fit is important because loose fitting earbuds or headphones can cause sound leakage and that may be another reason for kids to crank up the volume," said Farrell.

With the increase of portable, wearable technologies, there's an increased risk of hearing loss from noise exposure called noise-induced hearing loss. Farrell said this type of hearing loss is completely preventable but once it occurs, it's irreversible.

Hearing loss can affect a child's future academic, social and vocational success and that's why taking some simple steps to prevent hearing loss and protect one's ears is important.

Parents are being encouraged to ask their children to turn down the volume on devices but also to educate them as to why it's important to protect their hearing.

He also suggested creating a family technology plan, sort of like a contract, which lays out an agreed-upon parameter or barrier for the child's technology use.

 

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