When using headphones to listen to music, how loud is too loud for kids?

NEW YORK -- Noise is everywhere, but for many young people these days, it’s all in their heads. And with many children receiving headphones as a holiday gift, parents may want to take notice.

Pediatric audiologist Brian Fligor has studied the impact of headphones on hearing.

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Brian Fligor

CBS News

“We are seeing pockets of young people who have worse hearing than you would expect, much worse hearing than you would expect,” Fligor said.

When it comes to loud sound, the general rule of thumb is the greater the volume, the shorter the acceptable duration.

The top volume on an Apple music player, like the iPhone, is 102 decibels, about as loud as a leaf blower.

Keeping the volume at 70 percent, or 82 decibels, is safe for eight hours a day. 80 percent volume, or 89 decibels, is safe for 90 minutes.

But crank it all the way up and only ten minutes is safe.

A group of fifth graders in Cleveland Heights, Ohio is learning what it takes to be a good listener.

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An Ohio fifth grader in the Dangerous Decibels program

CBS News

The Dangerous Decibels program teaches the physics of sound and how excessive noise can damage hearing.

“We like to say that noise ages our ears,” said audiologist Sharon Sandridge, who runs the program for the Cleveland Clinic.

“It only takes one exposure to excessive sound to cause damage to your ear,” she said.

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Custom-fitted, 3D printed earbuds can help drown out background noise

CBS News

Fligor’s company, Lantos Technologies, makes a 3D printed headphone, custom-designed for the individual ear, to better drown out background noise.

“Worldwide, roughly one billion people are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss from using portable listening devices,” Fligor said.

Apps that measure decibel levels can show parents the amount of noise exposure their child is getting. It’s important and possible for parents to help protect their kids’ hearing.

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook