As the next phase of its campaign to conserve hearing by promoting safe usage of popular technology, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Rockville, Md, introduces the “Buds,” two cartoon earbud characters that provide safety tips for children ages 5-10, their parents, and other significant adults.

The Buds are featured in an interactive Web site with free and downloadable items. The site also includes screen savers, bookmarks, posters, and coloring banner pages. All items feature the Buds and the “Rules of Thumb,” simple safety guidelines that encourage kids to do things such as lower the volume and limit listening time.

“The approach we are taking is fun because of our target audience, but the issue is very serious,” says ASHA President Alex Johnson. “Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to communicate, learn, and socialize with others. By educating children at a young age and before they develop bad habits, ASHA hopes the Buds will help prevent cases of noise-induced hearing loss.”