It’s becoming more common to see children, even as young as babies, at concerts where the crowds are large and the sound is loud. So, how can you keep kids safe and create good memories while you’re there? Two parents and an otolaryngologist help you prepare.
The mom who took her kids to a lot of concerts says…
Assess the concert community ahead of time to know whether it’s family friendly or may include violent language, images, and drunken crowds. Keep kids with you the whole time. Use waterproof eyeliner to write your phone number on the child’s upper arm or chest (covered by clothing so strangers don’t see it), so security can call you if you get separated. Dress your kid in bright colors or a bright-colored hair style to make them easy to spot. Go over what they can do if you get separated. Point out the security people, the first aid station, and location of police officers. Plan a place to meet: “See that big flag by the green gate? Go there and we will find you.” Stay at the back of a crowd when possible to reduce sensory issues. Bring earplugs or headphones, keep kids fed, and bring a blanket to wrap them up in. The kid comes first, even if it’s a bucket-list band.
–Amanda B., educator and mom of four, Raleigh, NC
The ear, nose, and throat doctor says…
Hearing damage at a concert can occur depending on where you sit and how close you are to the speakers. The louder the sound, and the longer you expose children to this sound level, the higher the probability is for damage to occur. Damage to the inner ear occurs before you can measure it, when there is no obvious change in hearing.
Initial exposures may cause only only temporary ringing or hearing loss. Healing is possible because the body has a resiliency to mild damage. However, with repeated exposure, damage becomes permanent and the body cannot be restored to its original state. Permanent damage may not show up until a person is in their early 20s. It’s almost like cigarette smoke exposure, from which people don’t experience the effects until years later.
Parents should think twice about exposing their children to loud concerts. There are parts of a concert venue that could be safe if ear protection is worn, if young children will keep them on. For teenagers, we suggest they get industrial-grade earplugs.
–Dr. Kenny Chan, chairman, Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Children’s Hospital Colorado
The dad who took his child to his first concert says…
For my nine-year-old son’s first big concert experience at Ball Arena, we skipped the opening band so it wouldn’t be too long of a night for him. I recommend doing this, especially if it’s a band kids haven’t heard of. To keep my son engaged, I showed him setlist.fm (a free wiki-like service to share setlists) so he could see the songs that the band played. The whole thing was a good experience at his age: We chose a band with a good light show that really worked the crowd and had lots of recognizable radio songs. My biggest worry was smelling too much marijuana or being right next to people who were using it, but that didn’t happen.
—Brett Dangerfield, Arvada, dad of two, ages eight and 10