Fb. In. Tw. Be.

About Us            Advertise            Contact Us

08 Dec, Thursday
0° C
Image Alt

Montreal Families

Pump down the volume

The scene would repeat itself with depressing regularity. My daughter and I would get into the car for our daily commute and she would immediately stick her iPod headphones into her ears. Within seconds, I could hear her music blasting so loud that it could compete with the car radio. I was worried, not just about the volume but also about the amount of time she spent listening to her music, knowing that it could cause permanent hearing damage.

But my repeated requests to turn the music down did little but provoke the comment, “I don’t care, mom, I just want to listen to my music!”

My daughter’s nonchalant attitude about her hearing is common, both in her age group and, more surprisingly, in adults. According to the Canadian Academy of Audiology, half of all youth and adults polled said they are not concerned with potential hearing loss, and approximately the same number indicated they had no intention of taking preventative measures.

It can be easy for teens and their parents to ignore the problem of hearing damage because the effects usually aren’t seen for decades. But using personal listening devices (or PLDS as they are sometimes referred to) at high volumes for long periods of time can cause irreversible hearing loss.

According to Health Canada, PLDs such as iPods can produce sounds well in excess of 100 dBA, the unit scientists use to measure sound. Exposure to sounds over 85 dBA for prolonged periods of time will cause permanent hearing damage.

When using PLDs, everyone needs to keep in mind the relationship between volume levels and time spent listening. The higher you put the volume on a player, the less time you can safely listen to it.

In a study published in 2006, researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder and Boston Children’s Hospital found that a typical person could safely listen to an iPod at 70 per cent volume for 4.6 hours per day. (The type of music chosen didn’t seem to affect the results, so those who blast classical music run just as many risks as those who favour cranking up heavy metal or punk.)

So parents need to be monitoring not only the volume setting but also how long their child is plugged into the device per day. However, getting a teen to embrace safe listening habits isn’t easy.

Montreal psychologist Ruth L Budovich suggests parents avoid saying things like: ‘the volume is too loud!’, ‘why does it have to be so loud?’, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ or ‘turn down the volume!’ These sorts of statements will only put teens on the defensive and decrease the likelihood of a change in behaviour.

To foster cooperation, Budovich advises parents to state their expectations in a clear and non-confrontational manner and then actually allow some time for the situation change.

When talking with teens, she recommends parents use “I” statements, such as ‘I would like it if,’ or ‘I would appreciate it if,’ instead of “you” statements, such as ‘you’ll do this or else,’ or ‘you have to…”

“Showing respect for their teens will go a long way in reducing parents’ frustrations in dealing with their kids,” she notes.

My daughter and I recently came to a mutually agreeable solution to our ongoing conflict over listening habits. I purchased something called “noise-cancelling earphones” for her. These types of earphones block out the ambient noise, so she is less likely to crank up the sound. Now she is listening at safe volumes — although I still do the occasional volume check.

Noise-cancelling earphones come in different styles and prices ranging from $50 to $300. You can use a search engine like Google to find reviews or ask at your local audio or electronics store for some suggestions. My daughter did find, however, that it took a few days to get used to how the earphones fit in her ear.

The earphones eliminated much of the discord between my daughter and I. She can happily tune into her favourite musicians while I’m confident that her ears will still be working well when she’s my age — just in time for her to start nagging her kids!

Resources about hearing loss

Teens are often influenced by what they see and read on the Internet. Suggest they check out www.hearnet.com, a nonprofit, online resource for musicians and those who love music. They will learn that hearing loss is a huge issue for some big names in the business — Pete Townsend of The Who and guitarist Eric Clapton have gone public with their hearing problems — and young people can find out how to protect their ears.

The Hearing Foundation of Canada has created a program called Sound Sense, which includes an interactive website with sections for parents and young people at www.soundsense.ca. You’ll find useful information and tips, including a neat little equation — Decibels + Duration = Damage — that can help people quickly grasp the problem of noise and hearing loss.

To find out more about the University of Colorado study, visit www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2006/346.html .

On the Health Canada website www.hc-sc.gc.ca , under the section “It’s Your Health,” you’ll find information and research about hearing loss .

Volume Limiting Software

You can adjust the volume limit on iPods, as well as assign a combination to prevent the setting from being changed, which is ideal for parental control. For instructions visit www.apple.com/sound.

Post tags:
You don't have permission to register