Poll: How parents feel about noise exposure from their child's headphones

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Across all age groups polled, 49% of parents agreed that using headphones helped keep their child entertained.

Poll: How parents feel about noise exposure from their child's headphones | Image Credit: © insta_photos - © insta_photos - stock.adobe.com.

Poll: How parents feel about noise exposure from their child's headphones | Image Credit: © insta_photos - © insta_photos - stock.adobe.com.

Several areas can be affected from noise exposure in children including sleep, language development, academic learning, and stress levels, which is why a proliferation of personal listening devices among children could put them at an increased risk of preventable problems, stated a recent C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

For parents, it can be hard to tell if the child is listening to music too loudly or at an increased noise level when wearing headphones and earbuds.

Administered in August 2023 to a randomly selected and stratified group of adults who were parents of at least 1 child aged 0 to 18 years living in the household (n = 2044), the data is based on survey results from 1152 parents with at least 1 child aged 5 to 12 years.

Of parents that have a child aged 9 to 12 years, 79% reported the child uses headphones or earbuds, compared to 53% of parents of a child aged 5 to 8 years. Overall, 64% of parents reported their child uses headphones.

Sixty-eight percent reported the child uses the devices at home, 60% reported use at school, 41% in the car, 24% on a plane, 6% on the school bus, 5% outside, and 4% of parents reported their child uses headphones when going to sleep or in bed.

Across all age groups polled, 49% of parents agreed that using headphones helped keep their child entertained.

For any typical day, 16% of parents reported their child uses audio devices for at least 2 hours. Over half reported use less than 1 hour, and 8% said their child does not use audio devices.

Nearly 60% of parents said they attempt to limit the amount of time the child uses headphones or earbuds, though 28% stated they don't have a specific strategy to do so.

The survey revealed that parents of children who use headphones for 2 hours or longer per day are less likely to set time or volume limits, compared to parents who do limit use of headphones.

Of these parents, 39% said their child uses audio devices more than they should, while 26% said they are worried about the child having hearing loss in the future because of headphone and earbud use.

According to C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, the results of the poll highlight the widespread use of headphones among children, when it was previously thought to be a primary over-use issue among teenagers and adults.

Parents reported giving their child an audio device when in public or traveling, though if external sounds are loud in these scenarios, the child could turn the volume up, increasing overall noise exposure.

The poll states loud sounds above 120 decibels can cause immediate harm, where prolonged noise above 70 decibels—such as sound from a lawnmower or hair dryer—could begin to damage hearing.

"Since it may be difficult for parents to estimate the decibel level of their child’s audio device, a helpful strategy is to speak in a normal voice from a short distance away; if the child cannot hear, then the volume is too loud," the poll stated.

If parents are concerned their child may be at risk of hearing loss as a result of audio devices, a visit to the pediatrician is warranted.

"Healthcare providers may also help by offering a simple explanation about hearing loss to the child, to help them understand the importance of limiting their use of audio devices," the poll concluded.

Reference:

Can they hear you now: Noise and headphone use in children. C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. February 26, 2024. Accessed February 29, 2024. https://mottpoll.org/reports/can-they-hear-you-now-noise-and-headphone-use-children?utm_source=National+Poll+on+Children%27s+Health+List&utm_campaign=41fe34a067-Hearing_022624&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ba6e5a0194-41fe34a067-452286916

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