Professor Warns Gift-Givers about Possible Hearing Damage

High-tech gear is all the rage for gift giving. Millions of children and teens will receive MP3 players, electronics, and other audio equipment this holiday season.

But when the MP3 player is unwrapped, how do parents help preserve their children’s hearing?

According to Dr. Gail Weddington, instructor in the joint UALR-UAMS Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, ear-buds, the updated version of headphones, are not the main problem. Parents should monitor how their children adjust the volume on their new toys and ask for adjustments if necessary.

“According to recent studies, we have about 28 percent of teenagers turning their televisions up too loud for others in the room, 29 percent of them are saying ‘huh?’ all the time, and about 17 percent of teens report persistent ringing in their ears,” Weddington said. “More than half of our teens are showing symptoms of hearing difficulty, but we don’t often recognize them until it’s too late.”

As long as listeners maintain the volume of their personal audio equipment at a mid-range level or softer, there should be no harm to a person’s hearing. However, if someone is standing three feet or more from a listener and can hear the music, the volume is clearly too loud.

“This is not just a case of ‘if it’s too loud, you’re too old,’” Weddington added. “An involved parent will monitor not only what a child is listening to, but also how loud that child is playing the music.”

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