Gamers at Risk of Hearing Loss

In the world of gaming, where every sound immerses us more into the action, it’s easy to forget about protecting our ears. But just like leveling up our characters, we also need to level up our awareness about the risks of hearing loss from those long and intense gaming sessions.  

A recent study published in medical journal BMJ Public Health, found that sound levels heard by people playing games often approach or exceed safe limits. The researchers said that while headphones, earbuds, and music venues have been recognised as sources of potentially unsafe sound levels, relatively little attention has been paid to the effects of video games, including e-sports, on hearing loss.  The research included 14 peer reviewed studies from 9 countries in North America, Europe, South East Asia, Asia and Australasia, with a total of 53,833 people included in the review.

What are the main risks?

Prolonged exposure to high-volume levels can lead to noise-induced hearing loss, a condition where the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. Individuals may also become desensitized to lower levels of sound, inadvertently increasing the volume over time, exacerbating the risk of hearing damage. 

“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,” said audiologist and epidemiologist Dr. Lauren Dillard in the journal BMJ Public Health. 

How many people does this affect?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1 billion young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Over 43 million people between the ages of 12–35 years live with disabling hearing loss due to different causes. Among teenagers and young adults aged 12–35 years in middle and high-income countries, nearly 50% are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices.

WHO also reports that one study estimate indicates that there were more than 3 billion gamers worldwide in 2022.  Another study reported that over 10 million people in the USA may be exposed to ‘loud’ or ‘very loud’ sound levels from video or computer games.

How loud is too loud?

The review pointed to guidelines showing the “permissible” time a person can be exposed to 83dB sound is 20 hours a week. For 86dB it is 10 hours, for 92dB it is 2.5 hours and for 98dB it is 38 minutes.

For children, permissible noise exposure levels are lower – 75dB for 40 hours a week. Under this definition, children can safely listen to sound at 83dB for approximately 6.5 hours, an 86dB sound for approximately 3.25 hours, a 92dB sound for 45 minutes, and a 98dB sound for just 12 minutes a week. 

However, the study found that, on average, levels are often near this or higher, and warned that shooting sounds and other high sounds are not necessarily captured by average sound intensity levels.

What can we do next?

Maintaining optimal hearing health while gaming involves implementing several solutions. The research suggests that there may be a need to prioritize interventions, including initiatives focused on education and awareness of the potential risks of gaming, that can help to promote safer listening among gamers.  

By fostering partnerships between industry experts in the hearing health space, and emphasizing user education, we can collectively take proactive steps to safeguard user’s hearing and promote a sustainable gaming environment for players of all ages.

“At Mimi we want to keep the dialogue going around hearing health, work with our integration partner’s on the best personalized sound solutions, and help user’s learn about and prioritize their hearing – all to help ensure that the gaming experience remains enjoyable for years to come,” says Peter Möderer, Director of Product Management, Mimi. 

Tips for safer listening while gaming

Choose the right headset – If you’re gaming in a noisy environment, use noise-canceling headphones. If gaming regularly, invest in a headset with good sound quality, that fits you comfortably, and has adjustable sound settings to find the setting to suit you. Look for gaming headsets that tune the sound to your hearing, like the Skullcandy PLYR  and Skullcandy SLYR PRO.

Adjust the volume – gamers also often play at high-intensity sound levels and for several hours at a time. During long gaming sessions, check to make sure your headphones are not at the highest volume to protect your ears. Experts recommend keeping sound levels at somewhere between 60 and 85 decibels to minimize the damage your ears are exposed to.

Take regular breaks to give your ears a rest – To prevent headphone-related hearing damage, follow the 60/60 rule. When listening to music or other audio content, limit the sound to no more than 60% of the device’s maximum volume, and restrict usage to 60 minutes at a time. Taking breaks in between sessions will allow your ears to rest and recover.

More tips for safer listening:

Gamers at Risk of Hearing Loss_BMJ Public Health_Hearing Health

Enjoy healthier listening with Mimi and Skullcandy

Enjoy fully customizable sound with Skullcandy PLYR  and Skullcandy SLYR PRO  headsets, both offering Enhanced Sound Perception powered by Mimi.

PLYR and SLYR Pro gaming headsets use 50mm dynamic drivers that have been selected and expertly tuned to deliver a super-wide frequency range and rich, detailed sound for games, music or media. Plus, Enhanced Sound Perception tunes the audio to your unique hearing — you’ll pick up every footstep, every distant gunshot and every audio detail.

Skullcandy PLYR Gaming Headset
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