It’s not just how loud the music is, it’s how long they listen–ear buds and music players can be a lethal combination for a kids. As ABC News points out (and I would have used the same example–I hate this!) if you can identify the song your kid is listening to “just by standing next to him,” it’s too loud. But how can you convince your kids that cranking the volume to 11 isn’t pure Spinal Tap cool? About 5 million kids have noise-related hearing loss, and the earlier you slow it down, the better your child will hear in the long run.
I can tell you right now that Googling “convince kid to turn music down” will get you exactly nowhere. That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. You can try reason. You can try threats. You can try bribes. Or you can seize the controls–grab that iPod and check the settings. There’s a way to lock down the volume. Soon, the muffled sounds of “Fireflies” could be a distant memory.
Reason is, of course, everyone’s favorite place to start. That music is loud because they’re used to it loud. Listening to loud music for a long time temporarily lowers our perception of how loud the music is. If you can talk your kid into tuning out for a while, a softer volume will again sound fine. Many, if not most of us listen to our ear buds more loudly than we should–the ABC News reporter on this story stopped people on New York streets and used a sound level meter to measure their volume and found tunes blasting at power tool levels. Of course, few of those adults looked likely to change their habits anytime soon–which leads us to volume control plan B: set a maximum volume yourself, put a combination on it and walk away, humming quietly.
On an iPod, there’s a Volume Limit under Settings. Once the volume is set, you can put in a combination to prevent the setting from being changed. On the iPod shuffle, the settings are in the Source pane when you connect the iPod to the computer. To set a password, click the lock and enter one, and click Apply to save your changes. For other players, check online for volume limits–most have the option, and few people know about it. You may want to set yours, too–it also controls for songs recorded at different volumes, and means you won’t be suddenly blasted with sound, or unable to hear, mid playlist.
Test the maximum volume yourself–you may not want your kid to go deaf, but you do want her to hear her music. And remember that you may want to up your setting on airplanes, where white noise and altitude affect the way we hear. But on the ground, you’re set. Your kids’ “11″ is now exactly where you want it to be.