Improved speaker quality, talking baby toys, ear bud headphones and bigger sound systems in movie theatres are all recent technological changes that some might see as improvements, but others say our kids are paying the price with their ears.
A study by researchers Montgomery and Fujikawa found that over the last 10 years the percentage of kids in grade two with hearing loss has increased by a whopping 280 per cent. Hearing loss in grade eight kids has increased by 400 per cent. Why? Overexposure to noise is the biggest preventable cause of hearing loss in young Canadians.
The way a child hears affects the way he or she operates in the world. A child with just minimal hearing loss is more likely to do poorly in school, have low self-esteem and behavioral issues. For young children, speech or language development can be delayed by a hearing problem. Making friends becomes harder because the child has difficulties keeping up with conversations. Mental health is also impacted.
Here’s what you can do to help protect your child’s hearing:
- Educate your kids about noise induced hearing loss.
- Bring ear plugs for the family to noisy environments like car races, fireworks or arcades.
- Keep home and car stereos at a reasonable level.
- Switch your cell phone ring to low or vibrate.
- Don’t buy noisy toys for small children.
- Choose to sit in the centre of a concert, rather than near speakers.
- Speak out about movie theatres or school dances that are too loud.
- Ask your teen to wear earplugs when mowing the lawn, snow blowing the driveway or using power tools.
Contact Kawartha Hearing Care Inc. for more information about protecting children’s hearing. As a musician, recording artist and audiologist, owner Doran Hayes knows how to enjoy music and protect hearing at the same time. She works with music schools and symphonies to offer educational programs about noise protection and sells custom earplugs for musicians, swimmers and industrial noise protection. Find out more at www.kawarthahearingcare.com.