Tweens are kids who are in between childhood and "teenhood" ages 8-12. My daughter falls in this category (almost 11). It's a difficult age as they transition from playing with toys to thinking about boys. And the boys are very much over the "girl's are icky" stage as well. It's at this time when we start worrying about the big talks as well as other soon-to-be issues such as avoiding drug use, alcohol etc. We still want them to wear their bike helmets, even though they are more concerned about how the helmet will mess up their hair. Do we really have the time to worry about yet another issue such as hearing loss?
Well, we'd better because with all the noise in their world, many of our tweens could end up with irreversible noise-related hearing loss. They have iPods and other portable music devices, handheld video games and gaming consoles hooked up to surround sound. They will soon be attending more gymnasiums to watch sporting events that can reach very high decibel levels. Rock concerts may be a bit in the future, but with more and more musicians targeting this age group, you may be closer to a Miley Cyrus concert than you think!
How do you talk this incredibly self-conscious age-group into wearing earplugs? It's a Noisy Planet is a campaign on hearing protection targeted at tweens, and it's run by several United States medical associations including the NIDCD, NIH, DHHS and the government itself. Tweens are tweens whether they are here in the U.K. or across the pond, and I thought some of their advice was really pretty good.
For one, they encourage tweens to be trendsetters with their hearing protection and not buckle to peer pressure. One suggestion was to say, "Earplugs now or hearing aids later..." Educating kids on hearing loss prevention empowers them to make the right choices. Introducing your tween to the facts may be all it takes to get them to wear earplugs voluntarily. If all else fails, point out some of their favourite musicians and explain that these professional musicians protect their hearing.
At first, the earplugs may seem uncomfortable, but explain that they'll get used to them just as they would a new pair of shoes. You absolutely should check out earplugs designed specifically for smaller ears. Your budding musician will certainly benefit from high fidelity earplugs. They fine tune music while blocking distortion and dangerous decibel levels.
Don't forget to encourage your child to turn the volume down on personal music or gaming devices.