During the holidays, your child may have received a variety of exciting and interesting toys. But friends and relatives may have given gifts without the same level of care and concern you would use for your children. Even if you are a careful parent, your child can potentially damage their hearing if the toy is used improperly.
Researcher Hamid Djalilian, MD, director of the Hearing and Balance Center at UC Irvine, points out that some toys which are perfectly safe when used correctly can still cause problems. “Many children don’t play with them correctly,” says Dr. Djalilian. “Prolonged exposure to any noise above ninety decibels can cause permanent hearing loss in later life.” Some toys were found to reach more than 100 decibels when held close to the ear. That’s equivalent to the sound of a lawnmower or power saw.
To keep your children safe, hold the new toy up to your ears. If it makes your ears ache or ring, it’s probably too loud and producing a damaging amount of sound. Try operating the toy at half an arm’s length away. If the sound is still too shrill, your child should not use this toy unless you can lower the volume, disable the speaker, or remove the batteries.
Although permanent loss of hearing can occur without obvious signs, stay alert to your child’s complaints of hurting/ringing ears, their need to boost the TV volume while watching, or simply saying “what” too often during normal conversation.
Dr. Dena Riso recommends having your child’s hearing tested regularly. We work with you to keep your child healthy and safe.