Some toys could permanantly damage children's hearing

Filed under: Big Kids, Health & Safety: Babies, Toys

When Ellie was browsing toy catalogs and circling items of interest recently, one of the things she highlighted was a High School Musical Rockerz Jammin Guitar. I am all for encouraging her musical interests, but she's not getting the guitar. It's not even a real instrument. It's a plastic, guitar-shaped music player. But according to University of California, Irvine researchers, there is another reason to bypass this and some other popular toys: used incorrectly, they can cause permanent hearing loss in children.

In testing the decibel levels of some currently available toys, they found that many of them reach levels of 100 decibels or more. That's the equivalent of a power saw, subway train or power mower. They are quick to point out that when used as directed,the toys are safe.

Measured one inch from the speakers, the decibel levels in that High School Musical guitar reached 106. Even some singing dolls measured over 100 and Tickle Me Elmo made the list at 100 even. "All the toys we tested are safe when used as they are designed," said researcher Jeff Carroll. But, as he points out, kids don't always play by the rules and often think louder is better. I know I did and I have the hearing loss to prove it.
There is some disagreement among health agencies as to how long a person can safely listen to 100 decibel sounds. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that 2 hours a day is safe. But the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends just ten minutes a day. Both agree that prolonged exposure to loud sound can cause permanent hearing damage.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.