A recent study titled “Risk of sound-induced hearing loss from exposure to video gaming or esports: a systematic scoping review,” published in BMJ Health, reveals that gamers face an increased risk of long-term hearing loss or tinnitus. The extended periods spent playing video games, often with audio levels exceeding safe thresholds, contribute to this heightened risk.
The World Health Organization deems a noise level of 80 decibels for forty hours per week as relatively safe. However, minor deviations from this safety threshold significantly elevate the risk of harm. For instance, sounds at 90 decibels are considered safe for only four hours a week, and 95 decibels for just one hour and fifteen minutes.
The study analyzed four shooting games, finding that their average noise levels ranged from 88.5 decibels to 91.2 decibels, with gamers experiencing short bursts reaching up to 119 decibels. Prolonged exposure to such high levels can lead to irreversible hearing damage.
While the study relies on self-reported data dating back to the 1990s, when gaming was different, it highlights a correlation between extended gaming sessions and various forms of hearing impairment.
To mitigate the risk, it is crucial to advocate for maintaining audio volumes at reasonable levels rather than pushing them to the maximum. The potential for a widespread epidemic of hearing loss is a growing concern, especially with loud music at concerts and the addition of gaming.
Educating individuals on the long-term consequences of noise exposure is essential, and further evidence is needed to substantiate the theories presented in the study.