HearablesOnline would like to introduce to you Robert Scott from ‘YourHearing’ across the pond in the United States. Today he will be guest posting about the effects of long-term gaming when using headphones.
The Effects of Long-Term Gaming on Your Hearing When Using Headphones
Playing video games is one of the best ways to relax after a long day. The vast majority of us play them, whether it’s every night after work, or squeezed into a weekend. They are a great platform for winding down and chatting with your friends, and for many people they have become the main platform for socialisation during a busy work schedule. Of course, the majority of people like to have the sound on when they play, and will listen to it through a gaming headset or a standard pair of headphones. Regardless of how you listen to your game music, it could be damaging your hearing over time. Recent studies by Yourhearing.com show how.
The Popularity of Gaming
Over the past few decades, there has been a noticeable rise in the popularity of video games, especially amongst the younger generations. Children are starting to play games at an earlier age than ever before due to our advances in technology. While this can be a good thing, it also means that parents need to keep a closer eye on their hearing.
Typically, teenagers spend the most time playing video games. They have more free time after school and during holidays to play games and spend time in front of the screen. This also means that they tend to spend more time with their headsets on chatting to friends.
Due to an increased popularity for headphones, the number of teenagers using them has also made an increase over recent decades. In fact, it has been found that one in five teenagers are currently suffering from some form of hearing loss as a result of prolonged headphone use – a 30% increase since the 80s and 90s.
Damage through headphones is caused by damage that is done to the stereocilia in the ears. These are minuscule hairs that line the inner ear. When you hear noises, they vibrate, and this changes the voltage that goes through the hair cells. Then, chemical messages are sent through nerves up to the brain. The vibrations caused by loud noises harm the stereocilia, which then causes damage to your hearing.
As people who play video games often have the sound quite loud (the game music is often worth it after all), they are more at risk of hearing loss from prolonged use.
Damage Caused by Sound
Generally speaking, audio devices (including video games) are able to play sounds up to 120 decibels – the same level of noise you would expect to find at a rock concert. An hour and fifteen minutes at this level can kick-start the hearing loss process. As a result, it is recommended that you do not have the sound any higher than 60% when you are listening to your game and chatting with friends.
Interestingly, it has also been found that some people who play video games have experienced pseudo-hallucinatory noises long after turning their consoles or computers off. These are things like the music from the game, or certain sounds that are produced when actions are completed. This is currently being researched further, but it certainly shows that gaming can have auditory effects in the long run.
How Long is Too Long?
A lot of people wonder how long you should be using your headphones for when playing video games if you want to avoid hearing loss. It’s important to know, as the majority of people do not know the recommended amount of time. If you are listening to in-game music or friends at 60% volume, you should not listen to it for more than an hour a day, something which is called the 60/60 rule.
If you decide that you want to listen to your game at the highest volume possible for your audio device, you should not listen to it for more than five minutes per day at this level if you wish you avoid hearing loss. The basic rule of listening to music is that the louder the volume is, the shorter the listening period should be.
The best way to enjoy your gaming experience and also preserve your hearing as best you can, is to use the speakers in your computer or console to listen to the sound. That way, you can have it at a quieter level, and the noise is not being directly passed through your ears.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Here are some of the primary signs and symptoms of hearing loss:
– Ringing, hissing, buzzing, or roaring in the ear multiple times a day
– Difficulty understanding speech in a loud environment
– Muffled sounds and feeling as though your ears are blocked
– Needing to listen to the TV or radio at a higher volume than you used to
The effects of long-term gaming on your hearing are quite clear. Using your headphones or headset for prolonged periods of time on a regular basis could lead to some form of hearing loss. It could also lead to auditory hallucinations, where you hear the game hours after playing it. A lot of research still needs to be done, but in order to stay safe, adhere to the guidelines listed here, and try not to use your headphones for too long.