Kids love loud toys. But Dr. Hamid Djalilian, an ear, nose and throat specialist at UC Irvine, says their ears don't.
For the seventh year, Djalilian went to several stores and bought the loudest toys he could find. Then, in a double soundproof chamber, he measured their noises using a calibrated sound-level meter.
He measured more than two dozen toys that make noise about 85 decibels, a level that can cause irreversible hearing damage over eight hours, according to the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Among them was the Space Raider Glow Space Gun, which clocks in at 115 decibels. That's somewhere between a buzz saw and standing next to a speaker at a rock concert. Noises at that level can cause hearing damage in about 30 seconds, Djalilian says.
"The cells in the inner ear that are lost as a result of loud sound are lost forever, so you can't regenerate those cells," he says, adding that the damage will be compounded by age-related hearing loss later in life.
You can listen to the Space Raider Glow Space Gun's sounds by clicking below, or via SoundCloud.
What can parents do?
This holiday season, Djalilian advises parents to avoid buying toys that are annoyingly loud to the adult ear. He says parents can even test toys before buying them, by using one of several apps that measure sound levels.
If a child really wants a loud toy, or it arrives as a gift, he suggests that parents mute the toy's speaker by covering it with tape or glue. He found that this tactic lowers the Space Raider Glow Space Gun's noise level to 93 decibels.
Djalilian also recommends that parents supervise their children's play with loud toys. When the Space Gun's speaker was covered up and it was held at arm's length from the ears, the noise level dropped to 74 decibels.
How loud is that toy?
|Toy||Recommended age||Decibels||Decibels when toy speaker is taped||Decibels with tape and toy at arm's length|
|Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Click N Learn Remote||Children under three years||101||95||66|
|Vetch Spin & Learn Color Flashlight||Children under three years||98||84||71|
|Vetch Go Go Smart Wheels||Children under three years||97||75||64|
|Bright Starts Click & Giggle Remote||Children under three years||96||84||62|
|Leap Frog Chat & Count Smart Phone||Children under three years||96||90||57|
|Thomas & Friend Light Up Talking Percy||Children under three years||93||85||67|
|Vetch Little Smartphone||Children under three years||91||81||58|
|Space Raider Glow Space Gun||Children older than three years||115||93||74|
|Playskool Heroes Heat Wave The Rescue Robot||Children older than three years||107||98||71|
|Power Rangers Mega Cannon||Children older than three years||105||81||65|
|Road Ripper Mustang GT||Children older than three years||103||91||64|
|Space Raider Armor Band||Children older than three years||103||78||70|
|Rockin’ Doc Sing Along Boom Box||Children older than three years||99||87||64|
|Dora The Explorer Singing Star Guitar||Children older than three years||98||85||63|
|Dora & Friends Sing It Together Microphone||Children older than three years||98||89||62|
|Despicable Me Fart Blaster||Children older than three years||97||74||56|
|Woofer Just B. Just You. You Guitar||Children older than three years||97||89||64|
|Frozen Cool Tunes Sing Along Boom Box||Children older than three years||94||78||60|
|Dora and Friends Play It Two Ways||Children older than three years||94||74||57|
|Wing Warrior Batman||Children older than three years||93||84||61|
|First Act Discovery Microphone & Amplifier||Children older than three years||92||86||64|
|Twister Dance Rave||Children older than six years||107||101||73|
|Fisher Price Disney Princess Magical Music Maker||Children older than six years||100.5||82||64|
|Simon Swipe||Children older than six years||98||84||74|
|Hot Wheel RC Hyper Racer||Children older than six years||98||87||76|
|Darth Vader Ultimate Fix Light Saber||Children older than six years||96||72||64|
|Bob It Tetris||Children older than six years||96||83||56|