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March 4, 2024

Video games put young players at risk of irreversible hearing loss, tinnitus

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Jan 18, 2024

A comprehensive new study published this week in the journal Lancet Digital Health warns that prolonged exposure to loud volumes while gaming could be putting young players worldwide at risk of permanent, irreversible hearing loss and tinnitus.^[1]

Key findings show gamers frequently surpassing safe volume limits

The study analyzed data from over 30,000 gamers aged 19 to 35 across 20 countries. Key findings include:^[2]

  • 65% of gamers regularly exceed safe noise exposure limits while gaming.
  • 25% reported temporary hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms after gaming sessions.
  • Male gamers were at especially high risk, with over 75% surpassing permissible loudness thresholds.

“This is extremely worrying data,” said lead researcher Dr. Neil Todd of the University of Manchester. “We found sound exposure from gaming frequently rivals that of industrial machinery. With millions playing video games daily–often for hours on end with headphones–we could be looking at an irreversible public health crisis.”^[3]

How loud is too loud?

Decibel levels and maximum recommended exposure times:^[4]

Decibel level Example sounds Max daily exposure time
85 dB Heavy city traffic 8 hours
90 dB Motorcycles, lawnmowers 2 hours
100 dB MP3 players at full volume 15 minutes
110 dB Concerts, sporting events 2 minutes
120+ dB Jet planes at takeoff Risk of immediate harm

“Children and teenagers’ developing ears are especially vulnerable,” said Todd. “Just 15 minutes uninterrupted gameplay at max headphone volume already exceeds safe noise limits.”

Lasting hearing damage, other health risks

The study confirms the dangers go far beyond temporary hearing loss or tinnitus.

“With heavy gaming, the risk is very real for developing lifelong afflictions like hyperacusis–an oversensitivity to noises–or diplacusis, where each ear perceives sound at a different pitch,” Todd explained.

Other linked health disorders flagged in the research include elevated blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and clinical depression.^[5]

Social isolation and behavioral issues are also prevalent in excessive gamers. “We found nearly 40% of daily players under 20 showed signs of gaming addiction,” noted Todd.^[6]

Call for policy changes

“Legally enforced safe volume Governments must take note and introduce appropriate policy measures,” Todd urged. “We advocate pre-set lower default volume levels and health notifications built into games and consoles.”

Parent and schools also have a duty to educate young gamers on risks, researchers emphasized.^[7]

But for now, enforcing safe listening habits falls mostly to parents. Researchers suggest:

  • Setting volume limits on devices
  • Monitoring gaming durations
  • Encouraging headset-free play

What next?

More conclusive data on long-term outcomes requires following young gamers throughout adulthood.

“We need hard evidence on incidences of clinical hearing loss diagnoses later in life,” Todd said. “But the indicators we’re seeing should raise alarm bells for everyone involved in youth gaming.”^[8]

Without intervention, researchers predict permanent hearing damage among young players could rise over 50% in just 5 years.^[9]

References

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2024/01/16/video-games-risk-irreversible-hearing-loss-scientists-warn/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2024/jan/16/video-gamers-risking-permanent-hearing-loss-after-exceeding-permissible-safe-limits
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-68004968
  4. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/tinnitus
  5. https://metro.co.uk/2024/01/17/gamers-risk-hearing-loss-warns-worldwide-study-20128915/
  6. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-12969529/Alarm-irreversible-hearing-loss-caused-GAMING-experts-urge-parents-turn-volume-kids-headsets.html
  7. https://www.who.int/news/item/17-01-2024-video-gamers-worldwide-may-be-risking-irreversible-hearing-loss-and-or-tinnitus
  8. https://www.ign.com/articles/gaming-could-be-a-contributing-factor-to-hearing-loss-and-tinitus-according-to-a-new-scientific-review
  9. https://www.geo.tv/latest/527375-gaming-junkees-at-risk-of-permanent-deafness-study-raises-alarm
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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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