COVID-19 Updates: Latest Information for Parents

Audiology (Hearing)

Headphone Use Guidelines

  • More than 10% of kids in the U.S. (ages 6 to 19) and almost 20% of adults under 70 have permanent damage to their hearing from noise. Half of the population between the ages of 12 and 35 is at risk of hearing loss because of exposure to loud sounds through headphone and earbud use.
  • Headphones can be set as high as 94-110 dBA which can cause damage in less than two minutes at the loudest setting. Early signs of hearing loss may include ringing in the ears, difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments and noise sensitivity. When hearing loss does eventually develop it is permanent.
  • Volume limits on headphones are necessary to keep hearing healthy. Most devices allow a max setting on the volume by using a parental control. Aim for about 50 percent volume on your device, which means a setting of no more than 70 dBA. To help understand these numbers, here are the averages of some familiar sounds:

Normal talking: 50-60 dBA and 60-70 dBA with background noise or shouting

Movie theater: 74-104 dBA

Motorcycles and dirt bikes: 80-110 dBA

Music through headphones at maximum volume, sporting events and concerts: 94-110 dBA

Sirens: 110-129 dBA

Fireworks show: 140-160 dBA

  • Take listening breaks. The damage from loud noise adds up over time. Even a break every hour will give the hair cells in the inner ear a rest. One idea: Take the headphones off if you go to the kitchen or bathroom. 
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones, rather than earbuds. This helps reduce background noise so you are less tempted to turn up the volume to block out other sounds. 
  • Remember DO NOT to turn up the volume in loud places. If you are often using headphones in noisy places a noise-cancelling model is a must.
  • Don’t use headphones for sleeping overnight.
  • Test your child’s hearing at least every three years. Also ask your child to report any symptoms such as ringing, muffling, fluttering, thumping, sensitivity, distortion or pain even if they don’t last. Temporary symptoms mean they might return and become permanent.