Noise-induced hearing loss isn’t just a risk factor for adults with lifelong exposure to loud noises. As the popularity of media and volume-based activities among children and teens have increased, so have their risk for hearing damage. Statistics show that 12.5 percent of American children and adolescents have experienced some level of permanent hearing damage due to excessive noise exposure. As a parent and protector of your child’s health, it falls within your role to help educate both yourself and them about the importance of practicing daily hearing health safety. Review the following tips to ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect your child’s hearing.

Know what levels of sounds and length of exposure place both adults and children at risk for hearing damage.

A lack of knowledge is one of the most common obstacles to long-term hearing health. Do you know the decibel ranges that can cause permanent hearing damage, or how long a person can be exposed to certain decibel ranges before damage occurs? Here’s a list of common sounds your child might be exposed to in everyday life, and how loud they are, in decibels:

  • A dishwasher – 40-75 decibels
  • Heavy traffic – 85 decibels
  • Stereos at max volume – 105 decibels
  • Concerts – 110+ decibels
  • Marching band performances – 120 decibels
  • Firecrackers/shotguns – 150 decibels

Anything below 85 decibels is considered safe for even prolonged exposure. Beyond that range, permanent damage can occur after only 15 minutes. Even one minute of exposure to a rock concert’s 110 decibels is enough to cause permanent hearing damage. Knowing these thresholds is important when gauging whether the sounds your child is exposed to in everyday life are dangerous to their hearing and when to take protective measures.

Know which potentially damaging sounds your children are regularly exposed to and take steps to limit exposure and provide hearing protection.

Digitally-created sounds in the form of music players, stereo systems in homes and vehicles, television and computers are perhaps the greatest source of concern for this generation of children and teenagers. Device that use earbuds are particularly concerning because their volume levels are difficult to monitor. Limiting the number of hours your child can use these devices on a daily basis and setting volume guidelines is the first step to protecting them from this threat. Secondly, keep tabs on your child’s school activities such as band, and provide them with earplugs to wear in settings when they’ll be exposed to loud sounds for a length of time.

Teach your child about the dangers of excessive noise and the reality of permanent hearing loss, and lead by example.

Your child will be most reluctant to comply with rules they don’t understand, especially under the influence of peer pressure. Make every effort to explain to them how their hearing works and how easily and irreversibly it can be damaged by repeated, excessive noise exposure. The best way to convince them to use hearing protection and control the volume of their devices is to lead by example: don’t get caught with the volume up on the TV or not wearing your earplugs while mowing the lawn. You can’t always force your children to comply with best hearing practices, but you can provide the kind of reasoning, motivation and example they will want to follow to keep their hearing healthy for years to come.