December is the biggest toy-buying month of the year. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned parents may be purchasing potentially harmful toys for their children.
Noise induced hearing loss usually happens over time and is cumulative, so it’s important to begin practicing healthy hearing habits at a young age. Each year, the Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) tests a variety of toys for potentially dangerous noise levels.
The danger with noisy toys is greater than the rated sound level they produce implies. Children often hold toys directly to their ears which actually exposes them to more sound. SHA tests the toys as children would typically play with them, resulting in more dangerous listening levels. Any sound above 85 decibels (dB) can cause hearing loss over time.
Twelve of the 20 toys tested this year threaten loss of hearing in less than 15 minutes. Here’s the breakdown on this year’s top offenders, evaluated with the toy at the child’s ear:
- 111dB(A) Disney Pixar Toy Story Talking Figure Buzz Lightyear
- 109.2dB(A) Nickleodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Leonardo’s Electronic Sword
- 108.2dB(A) Dora the Explorer/Dora’s Desert Friends
- 108dB(A) Barbie Little Learner Laptop
- 107.3dB(A) Playskool/123 Sesame Street Let’s Rock Grover Microphone
To protect your children, follow these tips:
- Before purchasing a new toy, listen to it. If a toy sounds loud, don’t buy it
- Check the toys you already have at home. Remove the batteries or put masking or duct tape over the speakers of noisy toys. This will help reduce their volume.
- Look for toys that have a volume control or an option to mute the volume.
- Report loud toys. Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the Sight & Hearing Association.
Remember, your child’s hearing is precious (just like them!).