Headphones are smaller versions of loudspeakers. They are usually hung around the necks of people covering both ears. These headphones were developed for situations of noise cancellation and comfort. Most people would like to listen to music or watch a video without disturbing those around them. In these recent ages of IOT toddlers between the ages of 1-3 could also be seen benefitting from this technology. It seems ridiculous right imagining a 1-year-old with an oversized beat headphone over his/her ear, right?Fact is that its increasingly common to see toddlers glued to their phones, laptop or gadgets with their earphones over their ears. Parents of these age are grateful to this technology as it allows them time to work without disturbance from the YouTube videos their children are watching. If you always thought this was a win win situation without considering the safety effects this study is perfect for you.
Sound is measured by the amount of sound energy and intensity in a space. This is referred to as the decibel scale(db). This measurement starts at 0 db which could also be referred to as total silence while the highest possible is 194db which is believed to be able to kill a human on the spot. A fully grown human ear faces damage at sounds above 95db while an underdeveloped ear as that of a toddler faces damage from 85 decibels. Most headphones will easily play music at 100 db +. Also because of the lack of noise cues most people tend to listen to music 25-50 % louder on earphones than when played through the phone speaker. Due to the smaller size of the ear canal in toddlers, music played in an adult’s ear will sound louder in the ear of the child due to the small area of passage from the sound waves of the music or show. The damage will begin to show over time in the child and can ultimately lead to hearing loss.
The frequent use of headphones has been said to lead to secondary problems when toddlers grow up. They are usually speech impaired and lack social skills as they are used to wearing headphones isolating them from the world. These children could develop tinnitus, a hearing disease which leads to cognitive decline, social dysfunction and makes one irritable and angry in loud settings like birthday parties, concerts or even a restaurant.
The question is still being headphones safe for toddlers? Well the easiest answer is no. Headphones do not pose any of the dangers prioritized above if the following factors are considered and prioritized.
Parents need to consider volume limiting headphones. Parents are not accustomed to the sound levels that are not appropriate towards their toddlers. They just continue increasing until they feel their child will be able to hear the music or show. Volume limiting headphones present a solution for this. The headphones are automatically programmed to not pass an 80-decibel cross mark. This is 5 decibels lower than the level that causes sound impairment in toddlers. In short, the headphones present an assurance that one’s child will not be able to listen to music at levels that does not exceed the safe volume levels.
The size of headphones also contributes to the safety of headphones for toddlers. Toddlers who wear adult sized headphones pose an auditory damage to themselves as the sound waves are accustomed to an ear canal as large and developed as an adult’s ear but will pose a hazard to the tiny sized ear canal of a toddler. Also, for toddlers’ earbuds that are inserted into the ear canal should be avoided because it deteriotes their ear health. Instead over the ear or on the ear headphones are better suggested. The headphones should also be appropriately sized for the size of the childs ear to prevent hearing loss and also preventing the headphones from falling or sliding upon wearing by one’s child.
Headphones with soft and plus leather preferably adjustable should be considered to provide cushion and protection. Also, noise cancellation would be advised to cancel out any background noise that is preventing the child from effectively listening to the music.
Toddlers are known to chew on anything so in the likelihood that they have headphones they are are likely to chew on them especially if they are wired. Parents need to be aware that these headphones are made with several chemicals and could pose harm to one’s child. Parents should adopt only wireless headphones made of safe material that prevents the chewing from becoming dangerous.
Parents should allow room for social interactions. The formative years for social interactions for a child begin when he/she is a toddler. In the event that they see a lot of people around them they will grow up to be sociable with their fellow friends but toddlers who are used to just listening to music with their headphones will not see the use to interact with other kids and will end up socially akward and dysfunctional. Playdates with other toddlers and doing school periods toddlers should be put to run around and experience natural events as opposed to sitting in their cradle listening to “baby shark du du du. “
Managing duration spent wearing these headphones is another measure parent need to adopt. Most parents leave their children wearing these headphones and go to work so on an average a toddler is hearing 85 decibels of sound waves for approximately 8 hours a day. Parents could allow this long stretch of time but by accommodating intermediatory breaks. It has been said that toddlers who spend more than 8 hours daily with headphones develop one or another health condition. The best duration for a toddler is said to be 60 minutes daily.
To determine whether headphones are safe or not is up to parents. It is believed that its safe for a toddler to wear headphones as long as their pair have the proper features that provide sufficient protection. Parents should monitor their kids while they use headphones to ensure they are being used safely. The daily usage of headphones by toddlers does not constitute a problem. The issue rises by the prolonged exposure of these kids to heapdphones. And best of all some companies have designed baby specific headphones which ensures the best quality of audio while also taking the childs health into consideration. As long as rules are set for the usage of headphones for babies there can be a safe usage but even so prevention is always said to be better than the cure.