The danger with noisy toys is greater than the sound level they produce implies. Children often hold toys directly to their ears which actually exposes them to more sound. A toy rated at 90dB can produce as much as 120 dB of sound at the ear, the equivalent of a jet plane taking off. Noise at this level is painful and can result in permanent hearing loss.
Every year the Sight & Hearing Association and researchers from the University of Minnesota test a variety of toys for potentially dangerous noise levels. This year, 19 of 24 toys tested produced sounds in excess of 100 dB. That's louder than a chainsaw! Workers would have to wear hearing protection for similar noisy sounds on the job.
This year's top offender was Disney's Cars 2 Shake n Go! Finn McMissile car, blaring at 124 dB, loud enough to risk instant hearing damage. Number two was another Disney product, Princess Video Play-a-Sound Follow Your Dreams book coming in at 118 dB. For the complete list, visit Sight & Hearing Association.
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!).