The World Health Organization estimates that 1 billion young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Nearly half of people ages 12 to 35 in middle- and high-income countries are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices.
The 60-60 rule for safer listening could help protect your child’s hearing.
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"One of the major issues we’re seeing right now are children who have listened to MP3 players or iPods very loudly," says Dr. Kelly Conroy, a Mayo Clinic audiologist.
Dr. Kelly Conroy says the small audio devices can produce big sound, and you shouldn’t assume that your child’s volume is set at a safe level.
"The best thing that parents can do is actually limit the volume," explains Dr. Conroy.
You have to dig into the settings to find it, but an iPhone allows you to set a maximum volume for music. You can even prevent your child from changing the limit you choose. Other devices offer similar features.
As for where to set the volume ...
"One of the rules is called the 60/60 rule," explains Dr. Conroy.
The first 60 is for 60 percent of the maximum volume.
"You have them listen to the iPod at 60 or that range and, also, only for 60 minutes," says Dr. Conroy.
And she suggests your child listen with headphones – not the smaller earbuds.
"The earbuds go directly into the ear canal," says Dr. Conroy. "Both can be damaging, but the headphones are better than the earbuds."