ASHA to Consumers - Enjoy Your New Electronics This Holiday Season, But Use Them Safely To Avoid Hearing Damage
December 17, 2010 - With many consumers wishing for and expected to receive electronics for gifts this holiday season, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is reminding the public about the potential risks of noise-induced hearing loss and a negative impact on communication development that can happen from the misuse or overuse of various types of devices.
The average consumer will spend $232 on consumer electronics this year, up 5 percent from last year. During the recent Thanksgiving weekend, electronics were among the most popular items purchased. Nearly 60 percent of shoppers bought some type of consumer electronic product, second only to clothing. MP3 players, video game consoles and accessories and computers, including notebooks and tablets, were among the most popular items sold.
“By no means are we saying that that the public shouldn’t buy or have the electronics that are so popular” ASHA President Tommie L. Robinson, Jr, Ph.D., CCC-SLP says. “Rather, it’s all about awareness and usage. There are ways to use them that are not only safer and healthier, but also contribute to a person’s ability to enjoy the electronics their whole life.”
In the case of listening to MP3 players, ASHA recommends the following hearing protection steps:
- Turn down the volume. A good rule to follow is do not turn the volume past the 50% mark. (If you can hear a person’s music from their earbuds or headphones, the volume is turned up too loud.)
- Take listening breaks. Don’t listen to audio devices for longer than one hour at a time.
- Adults need to model good behavior. Wear hearing protection such as ear plugs in noisy environments.
- Find a local certified audiologist for guidance on hearing protection and care
With regard to other forms of entertainment media such as television, computers, gaming devices, cell phones and more, ASHA encourages consumers to:
- Don’t let these devices dominate your child’s life to the extent that significant and important social interactions among peers and adults do not occur.
- Don’t let your child spend too much time texting or tweeting, and not enough time writing longer assignments that require more thought, creativity, and skill, because their writing ability can suffer.
- Use the times your child is using these forms of media as a conversation opportunity; talk about how to solve problems or what steps to take next in a game; ask and answer questions about what they see in TV shows or games.
A January 2010 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation study showed that young people between ages 8-18 spend more than 7 hours daily using various forms of entertainment media including televisions, computers, video games, iPods, and cell phones. . The study also found that ownership of personal audio devices such as iPods and MP3 players among children increased from 18 to 76 percent in just the past 5 years.
The consequences of a hearing loss can be devastating, especially for a child. In fact, studies show that even a mild hearing loss due to excessive noise can lead to delays in speech and language development, affecting a student’s ability to pay attention in the classroom. Exposure to loud noise has also been linked to numerous physiological changes, sleep difficulties, digestive problems, delayed emotional development, stress related disorders, behavioral problems, body fatigue, and possible immunological effects.
Meanwhile, ASHA is concerned that overuse of entertainment media could reduce opportunities for language interactions and reading and writing. For example, children need practice using words and interacting with adults and peers. Thus, if they spend excessive amounts of time with such media, it “may adversely affect language development because these children are not receiving the language models and play interactions upon which further language acquisition is built.” (Beyond Baby Talk: From Sounds to Sentences, A Parent's Complete Guide to Language Development (2001))
With older children, the overuse of electronic media such as sending text messages rather than talking to peers, can reduce or negatively affect the quality of written expression. By design, text messages are short, truncated, repetitive, and abbreviated, the antithesis of grammatically correct, creative, vocabulary-rich written language forms of expression. Over reliance on text messaging can impede a student’s ability to read books and write papers that require understanding and the use of long, complex sentences with a variety of words.
ASHA has been a national and international leader raising such concerns via comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, global and social media outreach, its Listen To Your Buds public education campaigns, and special outreach directly to schools through initiatives like Buds In The Schools Week. Buds campaign partners include the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the Consumer Electronics Association, Parents’ Choice Foundation, the Educational Audiology Association, the Music Teachers Association of America, and the Buds Musicians Coalition whose members promote the safe listening message of the Buds campaign through their music and public outreach.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 140,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.