In the immersive world of video gaming, where the cacophony of gunfire, explosions, and virtual environments reign, a groundbreaking study first featured in CNN International, raises concerns about the potential risks to hearing health. This first-of-its-kind review, encompassing 14 studies with nearly 54,000 participants globally, sheds light on the often-overlooked consequences of prolonged exposure to loud sounds during gaming sessions.
According to the report by CNN International, the research, published in the journal BMJ Public Health, unveils a startling revelation – when participants engaged in video games, average sound levels consistently neared or exceeded permissible exposure limits. The risks associated with these heightened sound levels compound as gamers spend more time exposed to them.
Dr. Lauren Dillard, an audiologist and epidemiologist, emphasizes the significance of the findings, stating, “those who game regularly, as compared to those who do not, are more likely to experience tinnitus, measured high-frequency hearing loss, and self-perceived difficulties hearing.” Tinnitus, characterized by a ringing or buzzing sensation in the ears, affects 10% to 25% of adults.
Gaming’s Global Allure
The allure of video gaming, one of the most popular global leisure activities, captivates millions of enthusiasts who often indulge in hours of gameplay at loud volumes. The study raises pertinent questions about the relationship between gaming habits and potential hearing loss, especially considering the prevalence of sudden loud sounds, such as gunfire or roaring engines, in many games.
One key concern is the common practice of using headphones to listen to game audio, placing loud volumes in closer proximity to the ears. This practice is exacerbated in gaming centers where enthusiasts may turn up the volume to drown out ambient noise.
Dr. De Wet Swanepoel, a professor in audiology, underscores the study’s importance, stating, “This study is an eye-opener, highlighting the often-ignored issue of sound-induced hearing loss among the youth, particularly in relation to gaming.”
The study focused on exposure limits set by the International Telecommunication Union in collaboration with the World Health Organization. For instance, 80 decibels over 40 hours per week is considered the maximum safe exposure. However, the study reveals that average sound levels during gaming frequently surpassed these limits. Indicating a potential risk to gamers’ auditory well-being.
Global Youth at Risk
As a preventative measure, experts recommend monitoring sound exposure, using features on smartphones that display decibel levels, and keeping game volume at a comfortable level. Not exceeding 60% of the maximum. Taking breaks to allow ears to rest and being attentive to changes in hearing are also crucial practices to mitigate potential risks.
In an era where over 1 billion youths globally are estimate to be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening habits, adopting safe gaming practices becomes paramount. The study serves as a clarion call to raise awareness about the silent risks that lurk within the immersive world of video gaming. Urging enthusiasts to preserve the richness of sound in their everyday lives.