ASHTABULA — With 1.1 billion young people worldwide at risk of hearing loss from unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to noisy activities, Ashtabula audiologist Cindy Lanning reminds parents of ways they can help their children protect their hearing as we head into the summer season.

The message is a timely one, as May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.

“Summer is always a time of elevated risk for kids since they have more free time on their hands — time they often use for gaming, scrolling TikTok, or streaming music on their devices, with earbuds or headphones in or on their ears,” said Lanning, a licensed audiologist at Ashtabula County Community Action Agency. “This year, hearing experts are especially concerned, as many kids have already spent a full year online for school, using devices for six or more hours per day for educational purposes alone. The amount of time spent listening, coupled with volume, are the two factors that can put a person’s hearing at risk.”

Guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend children spend no more than 40 hours listening to a personal audio device per week, at levels no higher than 75 decibels, to prevent hearing damage. Many technology devices and accessories reach volumes above 100 decibels, and even headphones marketed as “kid safe” routinely exceed 85 or even 90 decibels.

If your child seems to have trouble hearing or is constantly turning up the volume on their devices or television, contact a licensed audiologist for a hearing evaluation. Ashtabula County residents can contact Community Action offices at 440-536-4176. Learn more about hearing loss at www.asha.org/public.

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