2WTK: Ear-Shattering Theaters Cause Concern For Parents

Ear Shattering Theaters

Going to the movies is an American way of life but did you know the loud sound coming from those speakers in the theaters could actually be hurting your hearing?

Doctors say young children are especially susceptible and they are evening warning parents to consider putting noise cancelling headphones on their kids' ears.

NBC Charlotte contacted a company called The Modal Shop and rented a Dosimeter to measure noise levels.
We took the device to three different theaters and recorded 30 minutes of different films.

First was the AMC Northlake Mall. We purchased a ticket for 'Finding Dory', the Disney animated movie. The film was within a moderate range, an average 70 decibels over the course of the movie, but with peaks near 84.

Next up at the same theater was Independence Day. Independence Day was a little louder with an average decibel reading of 72.5 with peaks up to 85, which is about the same level as a snow blower. Our next nonscientific test was comparing the same movie at two different theaters.

We picked Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

We went to the AMC Carolina Pavilion 22 on the south side and our dosimeter average read out was 73 with a peak of nearly 86.

But things changed when we went to the same movie but in Uptown at Studio Movie Grill. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates averaged 80 decibels and peaked at 93 which is similar to the sound of a lawn mower or food processer.

Some parents were worried about the results, like Nina Hall.

"Yes, I'm concerned as far as loudness goes. I don't even listen to loud music in the car or at home or around her," said Hall.

So what do all these numbers mean? And how bad are high-decibel films, for a young child?

Doctor Erin Washburn is a pediatrician with Novant Health and says our research shouldn't stop parents from taking their kids to the movies but it should raise some red flags.

She explained, young children who are exposed to loud and regular sounds can actually have hearing loss.

"I would say if you have a child that can't seem to sit still for two hours, you're probably not going to enjoy the movie and neither will they either," explained Dr. Washburn.

NBC Charlotte found out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace sound to make sure you're not being exposed to dangerously loud levels -- but there is *NO*  regulation in the movie industry.

So how can you protect your young children?

Some doctors recommend noise canceling head phones.

You may have even seen Michael Phelps' son using them during the Olympic Swim Trials.

"If you're going to take your older child to the movie, five-year-old six-year-old or seven-year-old and bring your baby with them, I would want you to have those noise reducing headphones on the baby when they're in that movie theater," said Washburn.

Some lawmakers across the country have drafted bills to curb loud noise in movie theaters but for now it's up to parents to protect their kids and their delicate ears.
 

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