When we think of hearing loss it’s usually in the context of old people, too much loud music, or noisy work environments. However, I’ve started looking for headphones for my daughter and was shocked to find out that hearing damage is also affecting young children. The really sad part is that hearing damage is irreversible – once it’s happened it’s too late.
Not that long ago headphones were for MP3 players (and walkmans and discmans before that – BTW how utterly useless were discmans!), and so really targeting teenagers and older who should know better than to turn it up too loud. I have to admit I wasn’t one of the ones who knew better and I found out during a medical that I do have some hearing loss – certainly not enough that I really notice, although I’m sure I’ll regret it when I’m older.
Knowing this, I started to look into how to protect my daughter’s ears. With kids as young as 2 fluent with iPads, headphones are finding their way onto younger and younger children. Kids this age don’t know about hearing damage and then there are the older ones who are just as likely to dare each other with who had turn it up the loudest. This is pretty dangerous! So dangerous, that a study at the University of Leicester found that loud headphones can do as much damage as the noise from jet engines.
So how loud is safe? The European Union now have regulations which limit the volume to 85dB for portable devices, which is quite loud but not damaging like 100+dB which can easily happen with regular headphones. Thankfully, volume limiting headphones are available which will keep the volume to a safe level regardless of what they’re connected to.
There’s plenty of choice for volume limited headphones, but as my daughter loves to dance around I found a great article about wireless headphones for kids and teens. I just couldn’t go past the Puro Sound Labs bluetooth headphones as they are limited to 85dB and they look amazing! I only ordered them yesterday so my daughter is eagerly waiting for them to arrive. They really weren’t all that expensive considering the quality – I hope they’re as good in the flesh as they appear in photos.
Wired headphones are about half the price, but I know that with my daughter at least the wires would just get in the way. That said, if budget were an issue I’d choose volume limited headphones with a cable than wireless headphones without the volume limiting function. Our kids’ hearing is just too precious.