20 Frequently asked questions about Kids using headphones

  • Are headphones safe for kids? 
  • Headphones can be safe for kids when used correctly. It's crucial to ensure that the volume doesn't exceed safe levels and that the listening period is moderated. Too high a volume or prolonged use can lead to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Volume-limiting headphones are a fantastic solution for children. These headphones limit the maximum volume output, typically to 85 decibels, as recommended by the World Health Organization. 

    This feature helps ensure a safe listening experience for kids. Additionally, frequent breaks from using headphones are essential to give the ears a rest and minimize potential damage. Safety also involves the physical aspect of headphones; for example, corded headphones can present a choking hazard for younger children so wireless alternatives might be a better choice.

  • At what age can children start wearing headphones? 
  • The use of headphones by children is a topic of debate among experts. However, it is generally recommended that children under the age of two shouldn't use headphones. This is because their developing auditory systems are more susceptible to damage from loud noise. 

     Older kids using headphones


    Older children can start using headphones, but their usage needs to be monitored carefully. Volume should be kept within safe limits, and they should not be allowed to listen for extended periods without breaks. Kids-specific headphones are often designed to be safer and more suitable for children's ears, providing a reasonable option.

  • What are the risks of children using headphones? 
  • The most significant risk of children using headphones is the potential for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). NIHL can occur if a child listens to audio at high volumes over a long period, damaging the delicate structures within the ear. Early signs of NIHL may include difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds or understanding speech in noisy environments. Moreover, continuous exposure to high-volume audio may lead to tinnitus, an annoying ringing or buzzing noise in the ears. This condition is often a precursor to hearing loss. To mitigate these risks, it's essential to limit volume and listening time, use headphones designed for kids, and ensure children take regular breaks when using headphones.

  • What volume is safe for kids using headphones? 
  • The World Health Organization recommends a maximum volume of 85 decibels for children, equivalent to the noise level of heavy city traffic. This recommendation considers the level at which prolonged exposure can lead to hearing damage. Some headphones for kids come with volume-limiting features to ensure that the sound does not exceed this level. In addition, the device's settings (like a smartphone or tablet) often allow parents to set a maximum volume limit, providing an additional layer of protection. However, even at safe volumes, it's essential for children to take regular breaks from using headphones to allow their ears to rest.

  • What are volume-limiting headphones? 
  • Volume-limiting headphones are specially designed to protect listeners from exposure to harmful noise levels. They limit the maximum volume output, often to around 85 decibels, the level recommended by the World Health Organization. The technology varies between models: some may compress the sound, reducing louder volumes while maintaining quieter ones, while others simply cap the volume at a specific level. 

    Regardless of the method, the aim is the same: to protect the listener's ears from potentially harmful noise levels. These headphones are especially suitable for children, who might not be aware of the risks of listening to loud sounds for prolonged periods. While not a substitute for proper monitoring and control of listening habits, volume-limiting headphones are an excellent tool for enhancing listening safety for kids

  • How long can my child safely wear headphones? 
  • The duration that your child can safely wear headphones is dependent on a few factors, primarily the volume of the sound being played. As per the World Health Organization, it's generally recommended to follow the 60/60 rule — listen to audio at no more than 60% of the maximum volume for no longer than 60 minutes a day. 

    After this period, it's a good idea to take a break and give the ears a chance to rest. This can help to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) which can occur from extended exposure to loud sounds.

    1. Do kids' headphones cause hearing loss? 

    While kids' headphones themselves don't directly cause hearing loss, inappropriate usage can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). This is generally caused by listening to audio at high volumes over extended periods of time. 

    It's, therefore, crucial to ensure that your child's headphones have volume limiters, keeping the maximum sound level at or below 85 decibels. Equally important is to limit the duration of use to prevent extended exposure, even at lower volumes. Regular breaks are highly recommended to give the ears time to rest.

  • What is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and how is it related to headphone use? 
  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a type of hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to high-decibel sounds. The sensitive structures within our ears, specifically the hair cells in the inner ear that transmit sound to our brain, can be damaged by loud noise. 

    This damage can be temporary or permanent, depending on the intensity and duration of the exposure. With headphones, the risk of NIHL increases if the user listens to audio at high volumes for extended periods. As such, for children using headphones, it's important to use volume limiters and monitor their usage time to prevent NIHL.

  • How can I protect my child's hearing when they use headphones? 
  • The key to protecting your child's hearing when using headphones is moderation and supervision. Limit the volume to no more than 85 decibels and ensure that your child takes frequent breaks to rest their ears — following the 60/60 rule is a good practice. 

    Opt for volume-limiting headphones that are designed to cap the volume at safe levels. If your child needs to wear headphones in a noisy environment, consider noise-canceling models to prevent them from turning the volume up to drown out the background noise. Regular hearing check-ups can also be useful to detect any early signs of hearing loss.

  • Are wired headphones better for kids or wireless ones?
  •  Both wired and wireless headphones have their pros and cons for children. Wired headphones don't need charging, which can be a benefit. However, the cords can be a safety hazard for younger kids, presenting risks like tangling or choking. 

    Wireless headphones, on the other hand, remove these risks, making them a safer option for younger children. However, they do need regular charging and can be more expensive. In both cases, it's important to look for features like volume limiters for safe listening. The choice between wired and wireless can depend on the age of your child and personal preference.

  • What is the 60/60 rule? 
  • The 60/60 rule is a general guideline endorsed by several health organizations, including the World Health Organization, to minimize the risk of noise-induced hearing loss when using headphones. 

    It recommends that headphones should be used for no more than 60 minutes at a time, and at no more than 60% of the maximum volume. Following this rule can significantly reduce prolonged exposure to high-volume sounds that can damage the delicate structures of the ear.

  • Are volume limiters safe? 
  • Yes, volume limiters are safe and are recommended for children's headphones. They limit the maximum volume output that can be reached, typically to around 85 decibels, which is considered a safe listening level for up to 8 hours according to health organizations. However, while volume limiters can protect against high volume levels, they do not prevent long-term exposure, so it is still important to monitor the length of time that your child spends using headphones.

  • Do all kids' headphones come with a built-in volume limiter? 
  • No, not all kids' headphones come with a built-in volume limiter. It's an essential feature to look for when purchasing headphones for children to ensure they can't inadvertently raise the volume to dangerous levels. Before buying, check the product specifications or consult with a sales representative to confirm whether the headphones have a volume limiter.

  • What are some of the best headphones for kids?
  •  The best headphones for kids combine comfort, sound quality, and safety features. Some noteworthy options include Puro Sound Labs BT2200 for its built-in volume limiter and noise isolation, BuddyPhones Play for its impressive battery life and volume limiting options, and the Srhythm NC10 for kids which provides active noise cancellation and a comfortable design for long usage.

  • Can wearing headphones lead to other issues apart from hearing loss? 
  • Apart from potential noise-induced hearing loss, extensive use of headphones can lead to other issues such as discomfort or pain if the headphones don't fit properly, skin irritation or infections in the ear canal with in-ear headphones, and even increased risk of accidents as wearing headphones, especially with loud music, can make the wearer less aware of their surroundings. It's important to ensure that the headphones fit well, are kept clean, and that their use doesn't compromise the user's attention to their surroundings for safety reasons.

    1. What age is appropriate for kids to start using headphones? There is no universally agreed upon age for when it's safe for kids to start using headphones. 

    It depends on the child and the type of headphones. Generally, it's recommended to avoid headphone use for children under the age of 2, as their hearing is still developing. For older kids, it's critical to ensure they are using headphones safely - with volume limiters and time restrictions.

    1. How can I teach my child to use headphones safely? The best way to teach your child to use headphones safely is by setting rules and demonstrating healthy listening habits. 

    Explain to them the importance of not playing audio too loud, introduce them to the 60/60 rule, and make sure they understand the need to take breaks. If their headphones have a volume limiter, show them how it works and why it's important. Regularly remind them of these rules to reinforce safe habits.

    1. What's the difference between on-ear and over-ear headphones? On-ear headphones sit directly on top of the ears and are typically smaller and lighter than over-ear models, making them a popular choice for older kids and teens.

     Over-ear headphones, on the other hand, have larger ear cups that enclose the entire ear. This design can offer better sound quality and noise isolation, but they are typically heavier and might be less comfortable for long-term wear, especially for younger kids.

    1. Are there any alternatives to headphones that can still protect my child's hearing? Yes, there are alternatives to headphones that can still protect your child's hearing. Speakers set at a reasonable volume can be a safer alternative, particularly for younger children. 

    For older kids or in situations where noise disturbance can be an issue, bone conduction headphones are a good alternative. They send sound through the skull instead of the ear canal, reducing the risk of damage.

    1. What's the deal with earbuds? Are they safe for kids? Earbuds, particularly those that are inserted into the ear canal, can pose a higher risk for causing hearing damage compared to over-the-ear or on-ear headphones.

     This is because they can potentially emit sound closer to the eardrum, making it seem louder. For kids, over-the-ear or on-ear headphones are generally safer and more recommended. If earbuds are the only option, they should be used sparingly and never at high volume.