With Christmas quickly approaching children everywhere are on their best behavior trying to ensure Santa will bring them their most coveted toy. Parents often go to great lengths this time of year to find that one toy their child MUST have. But did you know this year’s hot new toy could potentially damage your child’s hearing?
Most people realize children (and adults!) should wear hearing protection at concerts or if they will be exposed to very loud sounds, such as power tools or gunshots. However, people often don’t realize toys for children can produce sounds that are as loud as a lawn mower! Depending on how close the speaker is to your child’s ear, the music or sound effects could get as loud as a rock concert.
Aside from getting rid of the toy or removing the batteries, putting duct tape over the speaker(s) will dampen the sound and keep it from reaching damaging levels. If there is a volume control, be sure to set it at the lowest level. There are organizations that review children’s toys every year and release lists of the worst offenders, so check these lists before buying if you’re concerned the toy you are purchasing may produce loud sounds. If you are concerned about a toy not on this list or one your child already owns, downloading a sound level meter app on your smart phone can help you determine if sound produced by the toy is safe or not. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has a great sound level meter app. Any sounds above 85 decibels could be harmful to your child’s (and your) hearing health.
The Sight and Hearing Foundation produces a list of noisy toys every year as do many other organizations. A colleague recently produced two infographics regarding noisy and safe toys adapted from the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Be sure to check these lists or measure the sound from your child’s toys to protect your kiddos from noise induced hearing loss. And if you ever have concerns regarding your child’s hearing be sure to have their hearing evaluated by a licensed Audiologist.