With Christmas nearly upon us, many well-intentioned parents may be purchasing potentially harmful toys for their children.It is hard to imagine a parent giving a toddler a laser pointer to play with; most people are aware that looking directly at a laser can potentially damage the retina. But many parents are inadvertently buying toys that produce noise levels loud enough to damage their children’s hearing.
The incidence of noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise. Today’s children are born surrounded by noise; in many cases starting in the crib.
Recent data indicate over 12 percent of children between the ages of 6-19 years and over 15 percent of children between the ages of 12-19 years have noise-induced hearing loss. While certain types of hearing loss, such as loss due to aging or genetic factors, are not preventable, noise-induced hearing loss is.
Any sound above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss over time. The louder it is, the less time it takes to cause damage. So what can parents do? When shopping, use common sense and do a listening check yourself. Hold the toy close to your ear and take a listen. If it is too loud for you, it is definitely too loud for a child.
Look for toys that have volume control features or an option to mute. MP3 players and iPods obviously pose a threat to children’s ears and hearing. If in doubt, pass on the noisy toy and choose something quieter. Remember, your child has a long life of listening ahead of them!