Video game players risk irreversible hearing loss by being exposed to sound levels above permitted thresholds, according to a new study.
Playing video games would not be without risks. According to a new report published in the journal BMJ Public Health, carried out jointly by hearing experts from the World Health Organization and several universities, the sound levels of video games often approach or exceed the authorized limit values. Enough to ring the alarm bells.
Sound levels up to “119 decibels”
For this study, researchers analyzed nearly 14 studies, from nine countries in North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Asia and Australasia, and involving a total of 53,833 people.
Of these studies, six examined associations between hearing and computer or video games; 4 focused on “personal” gaming centers and rooms, popular in Asia; and 1 focused on mobile devices.
Reported sound levels ranged from 43.2 decibels (mobile devices) to 80-89 dB (gaming centers), while the duration of noise exposure varied by mode and frequency of access – from daily to once a day. times a month, for at least an hour at a time, on average 3 hours/week.
Result ? Scientists noticed that “impulse” sounds (short, sharp pulses of sound) reached very high levels during games – in other words, 119 decibels.
However, the sound limit recommended by health authorities for an adult exposed to noise for several hours is 85 decibels. For children, “lThe permitted noise exposure level is set at 75 dB for 40 hours per week“, explain the scientists.
From 110 decibels, the ears are in danger.
In fact, players around the world could risk “irreversible hearing loss and/or tinnituss (persistent ringing in the ears)”, reveals the report. Especially since if the “average” player dedicates a few hours per week to this practice, this is not the case for more regular players, who are much more exposed to these unwanted sounds.
Hearing loss: boys more at risk
If all types of games are potentially dangerous (on mobile, computer or video, etc.) note the researchers, gamers favoring gaming centers do not seem to be spared “theChildren’s play center use was linked to an increased risk of severe tinnitus and high-frequency hearing loss in both ears“, they reveal.
Another edifying observation: boys seemed more at risk of hearing loss, the more they play “play video games more often than girls, for longer periods of time and at higher sound intensity levels“.
Focus on awareness
“While headphones, earphones and concert halls are recognized as sources of potentially dangerous sound levels, the effects of video games, including e-sports, on hearing loss have not been widely studied. “Gamers often play at high noise levels and for several hours in a row,” say the researchers behind this work. And to add that these conclusions must be used to raise awareness among those concerned of the potential risks induced by video games.
Note, however, that most of the studies evaluated date from the early 1990s, and that only two of them having been made public over the last ten years “objectively measured the average sound levels of video games or gaming centers “. Other data, such as the impact of age on hearing loss, or the type of video games, will also merit more in-depth future research to provide new recommendations.
“Although the data provided in this study are limited, they suggest that some gamers, particularly those who play frequently, and at average or higher sound levels described by the articles included in this study, likely exceed permitted sound exposure limits and therefore engage in unsafe listening practices, which could put them at risk of developing permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus.”they conclude, before adding that it could be necessary “to prioritize (…) risk awareness, and to help promote secure listening among players”.
A good reason to turn down the sound tonight.