We live in a noisy world! Take a minute and think about all of the noises that surround you: the clanging of a radiator, noise from the street outside, someone driving by with their radio turned up too loud, a television blaring in the other room. Now think about how hard it would be to be a child trying to learn to hear and learn language in the middle of all of this chaos. This week’s tip encourages you to PULL THE PLUG and turn off sources of electronic background noise in your home to make the listening environment friendly for your little listener’s brain.
WHO: A nice, quiet listening environment is most important for very young children who are learning language, and children who are learning to hear with new hearing aids or cochlear implants (meaning, even if an older child switches from a hearing aid to a cochlear implant after she has learned to listen and talk, she’ll need to go back to a quieter listening environment for a while until her new ear adjusts). While we do want to work on listening in noise with older, more skilled listeners, a quiet environment is always ideal. You can’t go wrong by turning off the electronic noise!
WHAT: Turn off televisions, radios, computers, and other sources of electronic noise.
WHERE: Anywhere! You can improve the listening environment in your home, your classroom, your office, your car… anywhere that has extra noise!
WHEN: All the time! Unless you are specifically working on the goal of listening in noise, a quiet environment is always best to grow a listening brain.
WHY: When researchers studied recordings of children with hearing loss communicating in their homes, they found that background noise due to electronic media negatively affected the ability to children with hearing loss to access language (Ambrose et al., 2009). Apps and television shows, even those marketed as “educational,” are not shown to improve children’s language outcomes.