Is Hearing Protection This Generation’s Bike Helmet?

child protecting her ears from a loud noise

When I was a child, I rode my bike every day to visit friends or just for fun around the neighborhood. I never wore a bike helmet. I’m not sure they even existed for anyone but the most serious of cyclers. My parents did not understand the risks of concussion, so they didn’t think to protect me.

Fast-forward 30 years, and I would not dream of sending my children out to ride their bikes without a helmet. I know about the risks of concussion and serious injury when riding a bike without a helmet. How did this change occur?

According to the Bike Helmet Safety Institute, bike helmets for children were first introduced in the 1980s based on a design used by pediatricians to protect toddler’s heads after surgery. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that usage expanded as safety features and design elements improved.

A public awareness campaign in 1999 sponsored by McDonald’s and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also helped raise awareness. Today, statistics about usage vary, but in my neighborhood (and probably yours), bike helmets are ubiquitous.

Just as our parents could not protect us from dangers that they did not understand, our generation is making similar mistakes, but in different areas. I’m sure our children will one day look back and wonder why we did not protect them the way they will protect their own.

There is one thing we can protect against immediately: the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

This is a serious problem. The incidence of teens suffering from hearing loss is already on the rise. A research study published in 2010 in “The Journal of The American Medical Association” found that, in 2005 and 2006, one in five teens had some type of hearing loss – up significantly from one in seven teens in the 1988-1994 period.

Ems for kids protective hearing earmuffs

Parent Co. partnered with Ems for Kids because kids’ hearing protection should be a no-brainer.


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