Consider this - it takes just 7 1/2 minutes standing near speakers at a concert (any type of music) that shoot out sound at 120 decibels for hearing damage to occur. You're probably not going to take your 5 yr old to a rock concert, but what decibel limit is your electronic device set to when they put headphones on?
The process of hearing is actually fascinating. In a nutshell, sound waves (e.g., birds chirping, police siren, human speech) travel to our outer ear (what we see) which amplifies the sound as it goes into our middle ear. This portion of our ear has tiny bones that transfer the sound into vibrations to help protect our inner ear. The inner ear takes these mechanical vibrations and changes them into electrical impulses that allow the brain to perceive and localize sound. For a brief, detailed explanation - click on the video below.
The following graph shows the pitch ( high and low) and the decibels (soft and loud) for typical speech sounds and other mechanical & natural sounds.
When sound is too loud for too long - permanent hearing loss can occur.
(37% of children with only a minimal hearing loss fail at least one grade.)
What can you do to protect your child's hearing?
1. Become familiar with sounds that damage hearing (85 decibels and above).
2. Insist your child wear earplugs/muffs when involved in a loud activity. These can be easily found at
hardware and sporting good stores.
3. Be the example - and use ear protection yourself!
4. Remove your child and self from hazardous hearing situations when ear protection is not available.
5. Set/lock volume limit on sound-producing electronics (Ipad, Ipod, etc.).
Through simple awareness of our environment and preparation for potential fun, loud experiences - we can protect our kids and keep them smiling, too!