Best headphones for kids: Comfort, safety, and durability win every time

Tech 31-7-2022 Mashable 31
girl wearing headphones

These days, raising kids means being inundated with technology. Everywhere you turn there’s a little one with a device of some kind in their hand. Like it or not, technology is just as much a part of our kids’ daily lives as it is our own. And more often than not, parents have given their wee one a set of headphones to listen to their favorite show or game. While headphones for babies and kids certainly have their place — listening to music, a show, or even just to block out background noise — they aren’t without their drawbacks.

You might think that the main benefit to buying headphones for your children is so that you don't have to hear what they're listening to, but there's actually a more important reason. Your child's ears are super sensitive while they're developing and it's possible to damage them by hearing sounds over 85 decibels. Adult headphones just aren't the best idea for them to use, as they can crank the volume way past a safe listening level. That is, at least not unless you can convince them to lower the volume, which is pretty unlikely.

SEE ALSO: The best wireless earbuds for listening on the go

Instead, you're best off purchasing a pair of headphones designed specifically for children. They tend to fit better on little heads and all of the best headphones for kids contain a volume limiter so the sound can't get too high and potentially damage their hearing. Adult headphones are bulkier and heavier than headphones designed specifically for kids. Plus, headphones can be expensive, and we all know kids are hard on their belongings. If you give them your headphones to use, or purchase a set of adult headphones just for them, you could be shelling out a lot of money for a replacement pair when they inevitably get broken. This is just one more reason why you’re better off buying your kid their own set of headphones.

Finding the best headphones for children is about more than just fun, colorful designs, and affordability. To ensure you’re choosing the safest headphones for your kids, you’ll want to limit volume levels to protect little ears. Here are some things to keep in mind when purchasing the beds kids' headphones.

Should I get wired or wireless headphones for my kid?

The decision on whether or not to get wired or wireless headphones for your kid is largely dependent on how much money you want to spend and whether or not you want to worry about needing to recharge headphones on a regular basis. Many of the wireless headphones listed here have decent battery life, but they are typically more expensive than a wired solution.

Many people (kids included) prefer wired headphones for their reliable connection and superior sound quality. One thing to keep in mind, particularly for young children, is that wired headphones can be a strangling risk, so always supervise them while they're using wired headphones. This is also an important consideration if there are younger siblings in the house who might get their hands on an older sibling’s wired headphones.

What's the maximum recommended noise level for children?

Generally, many auditory health organizations recommend that the ideal noise level for a child is about 70 decibels, and that volumes should never exceed 85 decibels. (Anything above 85 decibels is deemed dangerous, and could result in hearing loss or damage.) Most adult headphones peak at about 115 decibels, which is why it's important to use a dedicated solution for your child. The limit is a limit too, not a guide, so always aim to play music a little quieter if you can.

Can headphones damage children's hearing?

According to the WHO and CDC, headphones can absolutely damage children’s hearing, which is why it’s so important for parents to know and manage their child's exposure to loud sounds. It’s also why headphones designed specifically for kids are recommended for little listeners, in order to help avoid any permanent damage to their hearing. Remember hearing damage is permanent and once it is gone it is gone.

Consider noise-limiting apps

When it comes to setting audio level limits for your kid(s) many parents might be pleased to learn that there are actually apps that allow you to set a volume limit for a device. This way you can feel confident knowing that your child isn't listening to audio at an excessive volume. Most experts agree that keeping the device at or below 50 percent of the maximum volume is a good place to start when it comes to safe listening. In addition, ensure your child is taking listening breaks to help protect their hearing.

Should kids use noise-canceling headphones?

Kids should absolutely be using noise-canceling headphones if possible. They can help to preserve your child’s hearing by blocking out louder background noise, which means they can listen to their audio at a lower level. In addition, noise-canceling headphones can also be helpful when it comes to blocking out external noise when your child needs to focus on things such as homework. This is especially beneficial for children who have trouble with auditory processing or attention span issues — and when used in a classroom setting, noise-canceling headphones can help kids stay on task and improve their focus. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, you can even use noise-canceling headphones to help protect kids’ ears from loud noises — such as at a concert or other loud event. Because the headphones reduce the amount of noise that reaches the eardrums, they can help to prevent hearing damage.

Can a child use earphones or earbuds?

When most people think about earphones as it relates to headphones, they think about earbuds. In-ear buds are great for adults, but they're not recommended for children. That's because their developing ears are more sensitive to noise damage. This is because their nerve fibers are still growing. Also, since they have smaller external auditory canals, their eardrum is always closer to the sound source. You don't want that to be exacerbated by earbuds — their little ears are too delicate to risk their safety.

How long should my child use the headphones for?

As with screen time in general, it's worth laying out some sensible guidelines, in order to give both eyes and ears a break and make time for other types of activities. That said, there's no hard limit: Some experts say that children can use headphones up to 40 hours a week, which is probably way more than most kids will get to. 

Whether you’re looking for a set of Bluetooth headphones, wired headphones, a budget-friendly model, or something that’ll stand up to daily wear and tear, here are the best headphones for kids, based on features, volume limits, and overall comfort.

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