Decibel Hunters

The Douglas County Parenting Coalition wraps up Hearing Month and an awareness campaign on noise induced hearing loss in children with a discovery project for parents and kids. Decibel Hunters makes a great science fair project for youngsters as well as a civic conversation starter for grownups.

Decibel Hunters

Noise isn’t just a personal health issue; it’s a civic and community issue. The presence of quiet is important to communities. Research has shown that noise pollution causes antisocial behavior. Quiet allows people to communicate more easily and be more relaxed while also maintaining a sense of place.

For this project you will need a smartphone or tablet computer.

1. Download the free SPL Meter app from the App Store on your mobile device.
2. Turn on the SPL Meter. Let the SPL meter run for 2-5 minutes.
3. Record the average decibel number in the log provided. The log is HERE
4. Experiment with a variety of locations and times. Try using the meter both indoors and out.
5. Email this page to:
Note: To measure conversations and voices, don’t speak into the device like a phone—just set it down on a table.

Buying Kids’ Headphones

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You won’t find them for sale in most stores. Sales staff at your local retail outlet won’t know what you are talking about.  Still, there really are some safer alternatives when it comes to kids’ headphones and sound products. Consider this; one in five kids will have some degree of noise induced hearing loss by the time they are teens.  MP3 players, loud videogames, and other noisy entertainments are all culprits.


What features should you look for when buying kids’ headphones?
Don’t let appearances fool you.  Just because a product is being marketed to kids doesn’t mean it is safe for kids.  One national chain with several Denver retail outlets targets teen and preteen girls exclusively.  They sell headphones that don’t stint on the rhinestones but lack safety features.  One of the most popular brands of teen headphones boasts model names like Crusher and Slayer and that’s what they do to young ears without the proper education.

At the very least, headphones should be noise cancelling.  One reason kids turn the volume up is to drown out environmental noise around them. If you must buy over the counter headsets, “ear can” style headphones that fit over the ear are preferable to earbuds.

Even better are decibel-limiting headphones.  They have a maximum volume of 85 decibels, the upper limit of safe listening.  Above 85 decibels, permanent hearing loss is possible.  The higher the decibels, the less the exposure time needed for permanent hearing loss to occur.  Etymotic, a leader in safe technology, makes the ETY Kids brand.  Kidzsafe by SMS Audio is another good brand.  Vic Firth, has long been a crusader for hearing conservation.  The company’s founder did a lot of research to create a headphone that would be safe for his own child to use.  Kidphones by Vic Firth are decibel limiting and also sound pressure reducing.

“Bone phones” are another alternative. Delicate ear structures conduct sound, of course, but hard, sturdy bone also does a great job.  Luckily, the best bone in your body, your skull, is handy! These high tech headphones bypass the ear canal entirely without affecting sound quality.  iHeadbones is compatible with all devices that have an audio jack.  If  you order online, use the event code “DOUGLAS” for free shipping.

Ordering information:
iHeadbones–order online code DOUGLAS for free shipping)  phone: 888-866-0807
Vic Firth—order online phone: 617-364-6869
Etymotic—order online phone: 1-888-etymotic
SMS Audio phone: 561-278-2323