Noise Exposure and Children
Approximately 30 million Americans are affected by hearing loss. 50 million have tinnitus: an early indicator of hearing loss.
Approximately 12% of all children ages 6-19 have noise-induced hearing loss.
5.2 million 6-19 year olds have hearing loss directly related to noise exposure. (3rd National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Niskar et al. 2000).
"...Over the last 10 years, the percentage of 2nd graders with hearing loss has increased 2.8 times; hearing loss in 8th graders has increased over 4 times." (Montgomery and Fujukawa 1992).
Noise Induced hearing loss can be prevented:
MP3 players are safe for children of all ages as long as they are not turned up too loud for too long of time period.
Generally, MP3 players can be turned up to a maximum of around 103 dB using standard Ipod earphones. This level though is too loud to use for average listening.
Generally, all brands of MP3 players run around the same range of volumes.
One type of earphone typically does not cause greater risk than another. For example, a headset versus ear buds versus over the ear phones all depend more on where you have the volume dial set and the length of time listening to the MP3 player.
How loud is too loud then?
A good general rule of thumb is if you can't understand someone talking to you in a normal speaking voice when they are an arm's length away...it is too loud. This rule works with standard ear buds and headphones. If you are using noise-canceling headphones, no more than 90 minutes at the 80% volume.
Are speakers less damaging than listening to music through an MP3 player/earphones. The intensity and duration of the sound are what determines the danger. So each one has the potential to do damage, the MP3 player just might be less obvious.
www.audiology.org, consumer information, Facts about Hearing Loss in Children