Digital Age Destruction: Technology's role in children's hearing loss

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A new survey conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association finds that teens and parents both average five hours a day on personal tech devices outside of school and work hours.

The survey also suggests that how loud kids listen to their gadgets could play a big role in hearing loss.

Jessica Lockhart is an audiologist at the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center and has seen what unlimited access to technology can do to kids’ hearing.

“We see a lot of younger clients having problems with their hearing; a lot of those problems are linked to noise," Lockhart explained. "These devices can get so loud that it can be damaging kids’ hearing over time. The general rule of thumb is, no more than 50 percent of volume when listening to devices. “Parents put sunscreen on their kids to protect them from the sun, make them brush their teeth…they need to pay attention to how loud their music is."

Sharing earbuds could be dangerous to people’s health as well.

“Germs are in our ears and you can introduce infection by sharing your earbuds with someone else. You wouldn’t share your toothbrush and you shouldn’t share your earbuds either,” Lockhart said.

What are some of the red flags for possible hearing loss?

  • Do you hear a buzzing sound when you take your headphones off?
  • Do you have to listen to your gadgets on full blast to hear the lyrics?
  • Do you misunderstand words and ask others to repeat what they have said?
  • Do you have difficulty following a conversation in a noisy or crowded room?
  • Do you need the volume of the television to be louder than other family members?
  • Do you think that most people do not speak clearly or they mumble?

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and Columbus Speech & Hearing Center is giving back to the community with their “Hearing What Matters” program.

If you or someone you know could benefit from hearing aids, please visit our website, www.columbusspeech.org, to obtain a “Hearing What Matters” application which includes an essay on why the individual is in need.