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Who Needs to Know about NIHL in Kids?

Are you an adult who lives or works with tweens—kids who are between 8 and 12 years old? If so, you need to know about noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Why? Because you have an important role in helping tweens learn to protect their hearing—before they form habits that can cause permanent hearing loss. Anyone who spends time with tweens has many opportunities to help them learn and use skills that can prevent NIHL.

Every adult has opportunities to:

  • Make tweens aware of the causes and prevention of NIHL.
  • Draw tweens’ attention to sources of potentially damaging noise.
  • Offer tips to protect their hearing:
    • Block the noise (wear earplugs or earmuffs).
    • Avoid the noise (walk away, limit exposure times).
    • Turn down the sound.
  • Watch for signs that a tween may not be hearing properly.
  • Serve as a role model by protecting your own hearing in noisy environments.
  • Show tweens the Noisy Planet Web site.
  • Sign up for the Noisy Planet e-bulletin to keep informed of updates!

Health care providers can:

  • Discuss with parents and tweens the environmental conditions that affect their hearing health.
  • At annual checkups/physicals, help tweens and their parents understand the risks of too much noise.
  • Be specific with parents and tweens about potentially damaging sources of noise. Parents need to hear from you that MP3 players, concerts, and shooting sports can damage children’s hearing.
  • Conduct hearing screenings and alert parents to potential problems.

Teachers, coaches, and other educators can:

  • Be alert to behaviors by tweens that could lead to NIHL and provide specific steps that tweens can take to protect their hearing.
  • Provide science-based, authoritative information about health issues that should include NIHL and its prevention. NIDCD offers a free seventh and eighth grade science curriculum entitled How Your Brain Understands What Your Ear Hears.
  • Require classes or groups to use hearing protection during particularly noisy activities, such as woodworking class or band practice.
  • Share observations and concerns about students’ listening habits with parents.

Extended family, friends, and other parents can:

  • Provide a home environment that reduces noise [see Noise: Keeping It Down At Home] and that practices guidelines for healthy hearing. Discuss these steps with your tween’s friends during sleepovers or at other times when they visit.
  • Encourage tweens to practice healthy hearing habits—wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.
  • Offer tweens praise when they practice healthy hearing habits, such as turning down the volume of their MP3 player or wearing earplugs to practice the trumpet.

By working together, adults can help tweens adopt healthy hearing habits to protect their hearing for life.