Those toys aren’t just noisy — they’re dangerous

As holiday season is gearing up again, that usually means one thing for families – toy shopping!

Much of the coming months revolve around walking up and down toy aisles trying to find just the right gift for the little one on your list.

Jennifer Scarboro Hensley (submitted photo)

Jennifer Scarboro Hensley (submitted photo)

When shopping for the perfect gift, you may look at age appropriateness, price, and other warning labels. But how often do you consider the noise level of the toys?

You won’t often find the decibel reading on a toy’s warning label, but the noise level could be detrimental to a child’s hearing.

Listen up- it’s important

Did you know that noise is the number-one cause of hearing loss?

By first grade, less than 1 percent of all children have hearing loss but by the time they are teenagers, 20 percent of all children will have some level of hearing loss. Some toys with sound or noise components could be the cause for this loss.

How can you tell how much is too much when it comes to noise levels?

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 85 decibels (dB) is the maximum volume a child should be exposed to for no more than eight hours. Decibels are a unit of measurement to gauge volume and decibel volume is measured in several industries including construction and engineering to ensure hearing safety. Sounds more than 100 dB can damage hearing in less than 15 minutes of exposure.

How do you know which toys are safe and which should be left off your shopping list?

Topping the noisy toy list:

  • Bruin- R/C Racer- 103 dB near the ear, 74 dB at arm’s length
  • Disney- Sofia the First, Time to Shine Sing-Along Boombox- 102 dB near the ear, 76 dB at arm’s length
  • Leap Frog- My Talking LapPup- 100 dB near the ear, 74 dB at arm’s length
  • Blue Sky- The Peanuts Movie, Happy Dance Snoopy- 96 dB near the ear, 78 dB at arm’s length
  • Barbie- Rock ‘N Royals Rockstar Guitar- 94 dB near the ear, 75 dB at arm’s length
  • Star Wars The Force Awakens- Chewbacca Electronic Mask- 92 dB near the ear, 79 dB at arm’s length

When shopping for your precious little ones, remember these precautionary measures:

  • Does the toy have volume control? If there is no way to turn down the volume, the child will be exposed to whatever decibel level naturally comes with the toy.
  • Is there an on/off switch for the volume? An on/off switch is a great capability for the child to still be able to enjoy the toy, without the risk of damage to their hearing.
  • Does the toy seem loud to you? If the noise level seems loud to you, it will probably be just as loud or louder to the little one playing with it.

As toy shopping season rounds the corner, take a few extra precautions to make sure your child is getting a toy they love, but is also safe. Once the toys are in their hands, you can also monitor their usage when they are playing with the toys as well as watching TV and listening to loud music.

Keep solid time and volume limits to ensure the kids aren’t exposed to too much noise. Noise reducing head phones are also a great gift to accompany any sound bearing device.

Enjoy the holidays with your family by making sure their hearing is protected.

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Editor's Note: Ms. Hensley is the family & youth resource specialist for the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. She works on providing families of Arizona support and resources focusing on those with deaf and/or hard of hearing children, and also parents whom are deaf and/or hard of hearing seeking familial support. She is personally familiar with the families she supports, as a hearing child of deaf parents. In addition, Jennifer holds a doctorate in Educational Theory and Practice from the University of Georgia and has a strong interest in deaf education, as well as cultural and linguistic identity formation.

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