The Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) recently tested some of today’s hottest toys on the market and found 10 of them to be “too loud”. These toys are categorized as any toy that reaches a sound level of 85 decibels (dB) or higher.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 85 dB is the maximum volume a child should be exposed to for no more than eight hours a day. Sounds louder than 100 dB can damage their hearing in less than 15 minutes.
Noise is the number one cause of hearing loss. Nearly 15 percent of children ages 6-19 have some degree of hearing loss. In addition, loud noises can increase fatigue, decrease a child’s ability to pay attention, and reduce short term memory.
“All parents want to keep their children safe,” said Sherri Collins, executive director for ACDHH. “This year most of us will be purchasing holiday presents online and parents will be unable to test toys volume before purchasing.” She added, “We want to show parents that there is a fine line between a safe sound level and a harmful level. We give them a list of pre-tested toys to avoid and show them how easy it is to test a toy’s noise level with an app that can be downloaded on their smart phone.”
ACDHH examined some of this season’s most popular toys chosen at random. Each dB measurement was taken as if the child placed their ear next to the speaker. If your shopping list includes toys for the children in your life, you may want to consider turning down the volume on these toys:
Toys to Avoid listed in highest dB order:
ACDHH encourages parents to purchase a toy from the “safe” list. (This list is not meant to be all-inclusive).
List of Safe Toys under 85dB listed by age:
“It is important to consider how the child will use the toy,” said Collins. “Children aren’t always using these toys at arm’s length as they may be intended. It’s also important to consider the decibel levels of other sounds around the child in addition to the toy, such as the television, kids yelling or other loud toys all making noise simultaneously. They can quickly add up and cause hearing loss.”
For parents who would like to conduct their own decibel test, there are free smartphone apps available to test the sound levels of any toy parents are considering buying or have already purchased.
A few suggested dB testing apps from a healthyhearing.com report:
Simple test methods to ensure toys won’t hurt young ears:
How to keep the volume down on loud toys:
About ACDHH: Established in 1977 to improve the quality of life for deaf and hard of hearing residents, ACDHH serves as a statewide information referral center for issues related to people with hearing loss and aspires to be a national leader in communication access, support services and community empowerment throughout the state. The purpose of the organization, and its commissioners, is to ensure, in partnership with the public and private sector, accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing to improve their quality of life.