‘Tis the Season for Hearing Protection!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday might have come and gone, but the holiday shopping season is still in full swing. And holiday parties, concerts, and other celebrations are just beginning.
While the season brings much welcome revelry, it also brings a lot of noise. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates around 1.1 billion young people globally risk hearing loss because of unsafe listening to devices and exposure to excessive noise in leisure settings. So what better time for audiologists and speech-language pathologists to educate on safe listening—raising their own profile and that of the professions—while contributing to public health.
ASHA-YouGov polling of parents
ASHA kicked off its own efforts on this front by releasing results of a national poll on Dec. 3. Conducted under the auspices of ASHA’s Healthy Communication & Popular Technology Initiative, the poll queried more than 1,100 parents of children under age 18 about hearing and safe listening related to personal technology devices.
Here are some of the findings:
- Seven in 10 parents are concerned about their child developing hearing damage from listening to popular technology devices such as music players, tablets, and smartphones.
- 86% think their children listen to their devices at volumes that are too loud.
- 82% of parents say they ask their child to turn down the volume at least sometimes, with 25% reporting they do so “frequently” and 19% “all the time.”
- More than half of parents intend to buy their child a tech-related gift—and more than one-third of those parents had not planned on talking to their kids about safe listening or hearing protection.
- Most parents, while reporting concern, have not taken preventative and protective steps beyond asking their kids to turn down the volume.
The results show widespread concern, but also reveal an opportunity and need to communicate the simple ways parents can help protect their children’s hearing.
ASHA’s message is one of empowerment and encouragement: Help kids to enjoy their technology safely, so they can continue to enjoy it for many years to come. Read ASHA’s full press release to discover more of the results.
Digital toolkit for members
ASHA offers a new digital toolkit designed to help members conduct their outreach on safe listening. You can post the ready-to-use graphics and videos on social media, include them in school newsletters and take-home folders, feature them on blogs or websites, place them in waiting rooms, and share them in a variety of other ways. The toolkit covers topics including hearing-protection tips (noisy technology and noisy holiday gatherings), safe-listening shopping tips (technology and toys), and much more.
Check it out—and share with your personal and professional networks.
New WHO safe listening standards
A key message in ASHA’s holiday campaign is the new safe listening standard for personal technology devices. Developed by WHO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the new WHO-ITU standard recommends no more than 40 hours of weekly listening at levels no higher than 75 decibels for children and 80 decibels for adults.
ASHA, which serves as an adviser to WHO’s Make Listening Safe campaign—an initiative that led to the development of the safe listening standard—supports these recommendations. ASHA also recently became a formal partner on this front via its membership in the new World Hearing Forum, a global network of stakeholders established by WHO to promote ear and hearing care worldwide.
Enjoy a safe, festive, and (reasonably) quiet holiday season!
Francine Pierson is an ASHA public relations manager. firstname.lastname@example.org