In the modern world, raising kiddos means being inundated with tech. Technology can be a good thing, from baby monitors, innovative and educational apps; there’s just so much that can be gained from technology. But is it all good? Is too much technology good, or even safe for our kids? Are they spending time outdoors, or are they just cooped up indoors watching their favorite shows?
While tech is beneficial, it can also be harmful to our kids. Take headphones, for instance. They have their place and can be helpful when your baby is learning a new language, listening to their favorite music, or some white noise to block out the loud noises or watching their favorite episode of Little Pippa Pig, and you’re glad because you can’t take the sound of that show one more time. Brands market headphones to even the smallest kids out there. But you can’t help to wonder whether they’re beneficial for kids, and most importantly, whether they’re safe, especially if used regularly. Read on to learn more about the safety of headphones for babies.
What Studies Say About Children’s Earphones
According to Today’s Parent, 8 hours of exposure to sounds at 85 decibels (dB), which equals the noise in heavy traffic or a noisy, crowded restaurant, is considered harmful. So, if your baby is listening to music, a movie, or a video game at 85 dB or more for 8 hours at a go or throughout the day, she could be at risk. The main factor is volume. Sound levels of 70 decibels, which is similar to the hum heard while driving in a car at highway speeds or less, can be listened to for any duration of time and with no risk. However, sounds above 100 Db, for example, a nearby thunderclap or a plane taking off, can lead to permanent damage in 15 minutes and above 125 Db, which is what you’d hear at a loud concert, and the damage begins within seconds and may be irreplaceable.
Also, kids under 5 have shorter ear canals than older children and grownups. The reasoning in acoustics is that the smaller the enclosed space, the bigger the volume. This same idea can be applied to the use and volume of headphones. So, it is vital to be extra vigilant to minimize exposure to loud sounds with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Other Side Effects Of Exposure To Loud Noise
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), other than hearing loss, exposure to loud volumes can also cause other issues, including a higher heart rate and high blood pressure. Also, according to Healthline, other health side effects can include trouble sleeping, lack of concentration, headaches, and children may also generally exhibit increased hyperactivity symptoms.
Are Earbuds Safer?
A potential issue with earbuds is that they’re specially designed to let ambient noise in. That’s fine if you need to hear sounds and other hazards around you. However, the issue is that we tend to try and block out that background noise by turning up the volume. And while there isn’t any kid-specific research on this issue, people using earbuds probably listen at a higher volume than people using over-the-ear headphones. And as the noise level in the surroundings rises, the earbud user increases the volume to overcome this since they’re highly susceptible to background noise.
Another possible issue is that earbuds, especially those with deep-seated rubber tips, can lead to impacted wax, further reducing your child’s hearing.
How To Keep Your Baby Safe
Here’s how you can ensure that your child is using headphones safely:
- Wait until baby is older– Hold off on earbuds and headphones, at least until your baby is old enough to inform you whether the volume is okay.
- Use child-friendly headphones– Even when you start to let your child listen to shows or music on headphones, use specialized ones that keep the sound level under 85 dB or an even lower 75 dB. Alternatively, you can download apps that set a volume limit for a gadget, leaving you feeling confident that they aren’t listening at a higher-than-required volume.
- Keep the device at half volume– It’s advisable to keep the device at or below half of the maximum volume for safe listening.
- Give your child regular headphone breaks– Today’s Parent advises on a 2:1 ratio. The child may use headphones for 2 hours then take a 1-hour break.
- Very Well Family advises that you ensure that the headphones fit well. That is, the sound doesn’t leak” out of the headphones, forcing your child to increase the volume.
- Also, make sure that your child can still hear you when you speak to them if you’re close by (at arm’s length.) If they cannot hear you, the volume may be too high.
There are many things to consider when buying your baby their first pair of headphones. Here are some safety tips, plus a purchasing guide.
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