Headphone Safety Tips for Online Learning & Teletherapy

May 28, 2021By: Jamie Bozarth, Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

In order to ensure headphone safety, being aware of the type of headphones children are using, how long they are wearing their headphones, as well as the volume at which they are listening is incredibly important. In a teletherapy environment, child hearing protection is an essential part of maintaining a safe and effective learning environment.

Why is hearing protection for children so important?

This past year the use of a computer for virtual learning and online/tele therapy services has exploded.  Along with all of the device use comes the concern for damaging children’s hearing. The use of earbuds and headphones has created the potential for children with normal hearing to damage their ears.  Earbuds have also become very popular for older children to use when listening to music, for virtual learning times or gaming on their device.  While little and subtle to use, earbuds can be very dangerous to children’s residual hearing.  Kids hearing protection is important for kids with normal hearing as well as kids with hearing loss.  It is important to be aware of excessive headphone use for children to ensure kids’ hearing is protected.

Inside the cochlea are tiny hairs that respond to noise vibrations that come into the ear.  These hairs can be damaged if the noise vibrations coming into the ear are too loud or at a high enough volume level for too long.  Sounds over 85 DB can cause damage to these hairs.  The longer the hairs are exposed to sounds at 85 DB or higher, the more damage that can be done.

Are headphones bad for you?

Children and adults should always take precautions to protect their hearing whenever they are going to use headphones.  Headphones can damage your hearing if they are used inappropriately at volume levels that are too high and for an extended usage time.

How loud is too loud for headphones?

Those with a hearing loss need to be extra vigilant to protect the hearing that they have left.  Headphones need to have a max volume of 85 BD and used for less than an hour at a time for children and adults. Anything over 90 BD can cause hearing damage if used for more than an hour and is not considered a safe headphone volume.

Headphone safety tips for online learning

Noise canceling headphones:

These are recommended for use for everyone instead of earbuds or regular headphones.  Noise canceling headphones help to cancel out the outside noise so you can listen to the incoming sounds at a much lower volume level. 

60/60 rule:

For every 60 minutes that you listen to music/videos/games etc. then take a 60-minute listening break.

Volume control headphones:

a great way to keep kids from turning the volume up too high is to be sure they are using headphones with an upper limit volume control.  Under 85 DB is recommended. 

Use a streaming device:

for those with hearing loss and who use hearing aids, a BAHA or Cochlear Implants a streaming device such as an FM, loop system or Bluetooth device to listen to any music, videos or games should be used.  The hearing device already has a built-in volume limit control so that noises coming in cannot be too loud.

Awareness:

Teletherapists need to be aware of what type of headphones they are using themselves as well as ensuring that the students’ headphones are appropriate for teletherapy services.

How to Choose the Best Headphones for Online Learning

When purchasing a pair of headphones for online learning be sure to check that they have a max volume control that is set at 90 DB or less. Many companies advertise kid safe headphones that are equipped with a volume control feature.  Always avoid earbuds and be sure that the headphones are noise canceling.  Adults should listen through the headphones prior to a child using them to be sure the volume level is appropriate.  Adults need to be aware of the time spent listening and incorporate listening breaks every hour.

Summary

The technology available today makes accessing music, video games and online learning settings very easy.  It is important to be aware of the type of headphones that are being used, the amount of time listening and the volume level that is being used for listening.  If hearing is damaged, then listening becomes that much more difficult.  Child hearing protection is an important part of ensuring that the teletherapy learning environment is appropriate and safe.

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