Did you know that children ages 8–18 devote an average of more than 7 hours a day to using entertainment media? That’s more than 53 hours a week! As portable devices become increasingly popular and affordable, more and more kids are listening to their music and entertainment through headphones. Unfortunately, too many people listen to their personal devices at volumes that can cause permanent hearing damage without even realizing it. While noise-induced hearing loss is a serious problem for anyone, it can be particularly detrimental for children and young adults, impacting academic and communication skills in subtle, but damaging ways that may go unnoticed.
So what exactly happens when a person has noise-induced hearing loss? Our inner ear contains tiny structures called hair cells that allow us to hear sound. When exposed to noise at a high volume, over time these hair cells can become damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss.
When a person develops noise-induced hearing loss, higher-pitched sounds are more affected than lower-pitched sounds. Because many sounds of human speech occur at higher frequencies (like s, th, ch, and f), this will make speech sound distorted. This can make understanding what others say extremely challenging, and can create communication gaps when trying to speak with others, especially if you are unfamiliar with the speaker or topic. For school-aged children, not only can this cause social issues, but it can put a child at a disadvantage in the classroom as well.
The damage done to hair cells by noise-induced hearing loss is permanent. Luckily, it’s also completely preventable! Pay attention to how loudly your child is listening to their music, and talk to them about the risks of permanently damaging their hearing. Some devices even come with the option to set volume limits, a feature that is particularly helpful for young children.
Want to learn more? If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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