Many parents loathe their children’s birthdays and other holidays simply because someone might bring them what has become known as a “parent-hater toy”. Anyone with children knows what I’m talking about. These are the firetrucks with not only lights, but realistic sirens to match. Even educational items for infants are covered in buttons that make them blare suddenly.
Luckily, toy companies have recognized the need to reduce the maximum volumes for many of their products. Now, the sirens are not so loud as to wake the dead, but they are still amusing. There are several reasons why this reduction in toy volumes was a great idea.
1. Early Education
In the century, many studies were conducted on the effects of noise on cognitive performance, or in other words, how well someone learns and carries out tasks in a noisy environment. However, most of the subjects in these studies were adults. This changed after 2000, when researchers redirected their focus and began studying children. These studies quickly determined that children’s’ educations are highly affected by environmental noise.
The lack of automatized cognitive function in children makes them more vulnerable to the effects of noise on than adults. Basically, their muscle memory has not been developed. This makes physical tasks more difficult when there are distractions. Also, children are less able to “fill in the blanks” of speech by others because they have not yet developed that contextual side of language. Their ability to learn, recall, and carry out tasks is greatly reduced when irrelevant noise is present.
2. Hearing Protection
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 17 out of every 1,000 children have lost some or all their hearing. They have attributed these numbers to an increase in overexposure to noise which can cause both temporary and permanent hearing damage. Any sound that measures more than 85 decibels can damage the microscopic hair cells of the cochlea and cause permanent hearing loss.
Studies conducted by audiologists have concluded that any noise that can be comfortable spoken through is safe for infants and newborns. The toys played with by the older generation were surely causing damage to the hearing of small children. Now, toy companies are quickly changing their tune and joining the fight to reduce noise-related hearing loss in children and adolescents.
3. Parental Sanity
So many of us have been there, you’re trying to make dinner and the doorbell rings, not only do the kids start screaming that there’s someone there, but the dogs start barking and chaos ensues. In the past, these loud noises didn’t seem so sudden as there were already a multitude of police cars, action figures, and singing dolls, dominating your home. It turns out that just turning down the volume of your children’s favorite toys can go a long way to protecting your sanity as you try to run your household.
Audiologists are parents, too. That’s why so many of them are determined to see to it that our children’s environments are quieted, even if just a little bit. No longer can you buy a “parent-hating toy” as they just are no longer produced. With the help of hearing research, and maybe even a little pressure from medical professionals, toy companies nationwide have recognized the need and responded in kind.
You may not remember the days of overly loud toys and this is perhaps a very good thing. Your sanity, and the health and education of your children, are well-protected by the recent attempts by toy companies to protect you all. Now, if only we could turn down the volume on those dogs.