Children's Hearing Protection

When does a child need hearing protection? How to help develop and maintain good habits for your children's hearing protection.

Need for Children's Hearing Protection

Children and teenagers are exposed to harmful noise levels in a variety of settings and activities; for example:
  • Fireworks displays
  • Concerts and music festivals
  • Sporting events
  • Airplane travel
  • Shooting sports
  • Yard work (from lawn mowers, leaf blowers, etc)
  • Auto racing
  • Operating power tools

In any situation where children are exposed to levels of sound that can damage their hearing, you will want to provide appropriate hearing protection for them and teach them to use it properly.  

Effectiveness of Children's Hearing Protection

There are three factors affecting the effectiveness of your child's hearing protection:*
  • Noise attenuation (noise reduction factor)
  • Proper fit
  • Amount of use (wear time)

The most significant factor, by far, is the usage. A superb product with a perfect fit does nothing to protect hearing if it is not used when needed.

As children get older, they are often less inclined to want to wear hearing protection. Here are some suggestions for helping them develop and maintain the habit:

  • Establish rules requiring the use of hearing protection for certain activities. (Be sure to set a good example by wearing hearing protection yourself during these activities!)

  • Let them choose the style of hearing protection they want to use; their preferences may surprise you.
    • Some might prefer ear plugs that are discreetly hidden under hair or a hat.
    • Others might prefer a bold style of ear plug that makes a fashion statement.
    • For still others, comfort might be the primary consideration.

  • Educate them about the noise levels of various activities and the relative risk of hearing damage involved. It might be interesting and useful to carry a decibel meter and measure noise levels directly.

* Ted K Madison, "Hearing Protection Considerations for Children & Adolescents" (presented at the national conference "Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Children at Work and Play," Covington, Kentucky, October 19–20, 2006).


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