Toys May lead to Hearing Loss in Children

Wow! It’s almost impossible to believe the holidays are upon, and yet, here we are, it’s December! Many of us celebrate the holidays with gift-giving, and this year shopping may be a little different. With COVID-19 still keeping us primarily at home, many will have to stick to online shopping to get gifts for their loved ones.

Hearing Loss in Children

Though it’s difficult to believe, there are certain toys out there that are too loud, and they run the risk of damaging your child’s hearing. That’s why the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) recently tested and released a list of 2020’s hottest toys to avoid. These are toys that reach 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 lead to hearing loss in children in less than 15 minutes. With online shopping on the rise, it’ll be harder and harder for parents to test toys out before their purchase, but the ACDHH is here to help. Read on for a list of toys they recommend as well as those to avoid.

Did you know?

Noise is the number one cause of hearing loss in children. Nearly 15 percent of children between the ages of 6-19 have some degree of hearing loss. Loud noises can increase fatigue, decrease a child’s ability to pay attention, and reduce short term memory. It’s not a great combination. That’s why the ACDHH spent time this year examining this season’s most popular toys, chosen at random, to provide parents with guidance this holiday season. 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:
  1. Leap Frog Scrub and Play Smart Sink: 103 dB
  2. Vtech Turn & Learn Driver: 101 dB
  3. Fisher Price Sing & Learn Music Player: 98 dB
  4. Leap Frog 100 Animals Books: 98 dB
  5. Nickelodeon Baby Shark Musical PlayPad: 98 dB
  6. Jada Police Hero Patrol Lights & Sound 95 dB
  7. Leap Frog Fridge Phonics: 94 dB
  8. Vtech Helping Heroes Fire Station: 93 dB
  9. Adventure Force Mighty Dragon: 92 dB
  10. Leap Frog 100 Words Book: 92 dB
  11. Vtech Peppa Pig Learn & Discover Book: 91 dB
  12. Vtech Brilliant Baby Laptop: 90 dB
  13. Vtech Magic Star Learning Table: 89 dB
  14. Fisher Price Leave a Message Smart Phone: 89 dB

The ACDHH also created a list of toys they encourage parents to purchase (the list is not all-inclusive).

List of Safe Toys under 85dB listed by age:
  1. Leap Frog Learn & Groove Caterpillar Drums: 80 dB
  2. Leap Frog Pick Up & Count Vacuum: 78 dB
  3. Vtech Care for Me Learning Carrie: 75 dB
  4. Vtech Drop & Go Dump Truck: 75 dB
  5. Vtech Bright Lights Soccer Ball: 70 dB
  6. B. Toy Critter Clinic: No sound
  7. Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Counter: No sound
  8. Melissa & Doug Dust Sweep Mop: No sound

When buying toys for your children, it’s important to think about how the child will use the toy. More often than not, children may choose to hold the toy close, versus at arm’s length, which can be risky. Another consideration is what other sounds may be present at the time of play. Perhaps there’s a television on, other children they’re playing with who are yelling, or other loud toys they may not be interacting with. All of these sounds can add up, and ultimately lead to hearing loss in children.

If you’d like to conduct your own decibel test, there are a few applications you can download on your smartphone to test sound levels of toys you’re considering purchasing or already bought:

A few suggested dB testing apps from a healthyhearing.com report:
  • Apps for both Android and iOS
    • Decibel X
    • SPL Meter
    • Too Noisy Pro
  • Apps for iOS only
    • NIOSH Sound Level Meter
    • SPLnFFT Noise Meter
  • Apps for Android only
    • Sound Meter Pro
    • Sound Meter and Noise Detector

Simple test methods to ensure toys won’t hurt young ears: 

  • Use ‘try-me’ buttons on the toys when available
  • Hold the toy as close to your ear as your child would and ask yourself if the toy is too loud
  • Hold the toy eight inches away from your ear (approximately the length of your child’s arm), and if you must speak at a higher volume above the sound effects, it’s too loud

How to keep the volume down on loud toys:

  • If the toy has volume control, ensure it’s always set to the lowest level
  • Put waterproof tape or super glue over speaker to mute it
  • Put tape over volume control to prevent your child from increasing the volume to unsafe volume level

As always, our priority is your well-being. If you think your child may be suffering from hearing loss, or perhaps you, be sure to make an appointment with us. We’re practicing all social distancing safety measures, and are here to help with all your auditory needs. Give us a call to set up an appointment, or to ask any questions. We’re here for you!

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