It’s a Noisy Planet: How Parents Can Protect Their Kids’ Hearing
We live in an increasingly noisy world. Not only does the overall noise level seem to be going up, but we are surrounded by a growing number of tools, toys, and other gadgets that make noise—and lots of it. Just compare the noise made by a rake to that made by a leaf blower! While you may already be aware of the rising din, you may not know that too much noise can permanently damage your hearing and your child’s hearing.
Even a small loss of hearing can affect a child's quality of life. The ability to hear well helps children succeed in school, in sports and other activities, and in their personal relationships. As adults, the quality of their hearing health may affect their job opportunities and workplace safety.
The lifetime consequences of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be so significant that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made the reduction of NIHL a national objective. Healthy People 2010, the nation’s blueprint for better health, has a goal of reducing NIHL in kids and teens under age 17 as well as in adults.
To help us prevent NIHL in children, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health, has launched It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing. This national public education campaign is designed to increase awareness among parents of children ages 8 to 12 about the causes and prevention of NIHL. Children at this age are developing their own listening, working, and leisure time habits. Consequently, this age provides an excellent opportunity for parents to encourage them to also adopt healthy hearing habits.
“The good news is that there are simple steps that everyone can take to protect their hearing from potentially damaging sounds,” says James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of NIDCD. “Our goal through this campaign is to increase awareness among parents and children so that it will become second nature to use protective hearing techniques when they’re exposed to loud noise, just like it’s become second nature to wear sunscreen when they’re at the beach or to snap on a helmet when they go biking.”
According to the Noisy Planet campaign, noises that are too loud and last too long can be harmful to hearing. To protect your hearing, you and your child can:
- Block the noise (wear earplugs or earmuffs).
- Avoid the noise (walk away).
- Turn down the sound.
The Noisy Planet Web site provides parents with information about NIHL and tips on how to teach their children about hearing protection. The site also features articles, games, posters, and other materials developed just for kids to make learning about hearing protection fun as well as educational. For more information, visit www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov or call (800) 241-1044.