The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults across the world are at risk because of unsafe listening practices. Clearly, noise-induced hearing loss is a growing concern.
Many of those unsafe listening practices come from devices like television, an iPod® or iPad®, a computer, or another device. Damage from excessive noise exposure is cumulative, so even one instance of high noise exposure can have far-reaching effects.
Luckily, there are several ways you can limit the volume on your kids' devices. We recommend setting the maximum volume no higher than 60% capacity, as this correlates with the highest volume that's typically considered safe.
1. Set “Restrictions” on an iPhone® or iPad®
Every mobile device made by Apple is equipped with parental controls called “restrictions,” and one such restriction can limit the device’s maximum volume. You can set this up right in the Settings app, and you’ll be able to secure the restriction with a special password. Apple’s help website goes over this process in detail.
Note: You can also set a maximum volume on your own device in Music settings. This does not require a parental control password.
2. Use an app to limit Android volumes
While there is not built-in volume control on Android devices, the Google Play Store has several app options that can limit volume. Searching with terms like “volume limiter” or “volume limiter for kids” will bring up many choices, some with parental locks and some without.
3. Set a maximum volume in Google Chrome
If your child likes to watch YouTube or listen to music using a desktop browser, this tip can be especially useful. You can create a “supervised user” account (instructions here) in which you set up parental controls, including volume. This technique was designed for families who use a Chromebook with multiple user accounts set up, but it can also be used for the Chrome browser on a family PC.
4. Check your television for parental volume controls
Many of today’s televisions allow you to set a maximum volume within the parental control settings. If you can’t find the option within your TV’s menu, you can try searching in the user manual.
Note: Most electronic manufacturers publish their products’ user manuals online. If you find a digital copy, you can use Control+ F within the manual to search for words like “volume” or “sound control.”
5. Buy the right headphones
You can also control the volume at which your kids are listening when you purchase their headphones. Many people use earbuds, but over-the-ear headphones sit farther from the eardrum and therefore are safer. Also, the over-the-ear style is often more comfortable for little ears and more durable.
What’s more, there are plenty of headphones in the market that don’t play sounds any louder than is considered safe. This article does a great job of reviewing several different options available.
6. Limit your PC’s application volume
This setting isn't extremely well-known, but it does exist. First, go to the “Volume Mixer” settings. They can be accessed by choosing “Adjust System Volume” in the control panel or by clicking “Mixer” in the volume-adjustment box that pops up if you click on the speaker icon in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.
Set the device (speaker) volume to 100% and adjust the application (system sounds) volume to the maximum you want. After you've done this, the speakers' volume range will be limited. Move the speaker slider up and down to see how this limit works.
7. Lock your Mac’s keyboard
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to limit the maximum volume on a Mac computer. However, if your child is using the computer to watch a movie or play music in the background, you could lock the keyboard. This way, they won’t be able to use the keyboard’s volume keys to accidentally (or purposefully) make it louder.
These tips and tricks can make it a little easier to keep your kids' ears and hearing safe. It's also not a bad idea to use them on your own devices! If you're concerned that your children have been listening to their devices at an unsafe volume, schedule a hearing care appointment today!