You get your kids to wear their helmet when riding their bike, and slather them in sunscreen for a day at the beach...but what about protecting their hearing? iPod and MP3 ear buds are not all the same and could lead to hearing loss!It's up to you to determine the kind of earphones that your child should use. The earbuds that come standard with an MP3 player are not automatically safe for young children. In fact, some players on the market put out about 105 decibels of sound at full volume.

At that level, kids have about 7 minutes of full-throttle enjoyment before ear damage begins!

Doctor of Audiology Shelly Hamilton, who we had on our show this morning, says children's smaller ear canals make them more vulnerable to loud noise because sound is louder in a smaller space.

But even for teenagers, a 15-year-old who gets an MP3 player and is not taught to safely use it could have the hearing of a 60 year old man by the time he is 25 years old.

So what can you do?

iPod has features to preset the output with password protection to not exceed safe limits. Visit www.apple.com/sound for more information on listening to an iPod responsibly.

Parents can also choose special gear for young children. ETY Kids (Etymotic) earphones, if used at maximum volume, are safer than stock earbuds for listening to even the loudest music. www.etyomotic.com

Some other guidelines for determining if your child has his or her earbuds turned up too loud:

-- Kids should be able to hear normal conversations in the room without removing the earbuds.

-- No matter what the setting, if your child's ears ring, or feel numb, or full, or 'different' after they remove their earbuds, then that is absolutely too loud and they should never go up to that volume again.

--When it's quiet before your child falls asleep, if they hear ringing, buzzing, or hissing in their ears, that probably indicates hearing damage.

And remember, claims stating that earphones are safe should be backed by science.

For more information, check out these great websites:

www.turnittotheleft.org

www.listentoyourbuds.org

www.dangerousdecibels.org