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by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
Many headphones are advertised as safe for children’s hearing, using the occupationally derived 85 decibel (dB) standard as the volume limit without giving an exposure time.
When I contacted them in December 2015, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Advertising Practices declined to take action about this false advertising. Earlier this year, I learned about the UK Advertising Standards Authority, a quasi-governmental agency serving approximately the same role in England and Wales. I filed the same complaint with ASA, on behalf on The Quiet Coalition to protect children’s auditory health. On October 31, 2018, the ASA issued a ruling that Amazon’s advertising of these headphones as safe for children was indeed false advertising.
A study in the Netherlands earlier this year showed that even in children age 9-11 years, headphone use was associated with an increased rate of auditory disorders.
Parents and grandparents would be well-advised not to allow their children or grandchildren to listen to music or videos using headphones, with or without the 85 dB volume limit.