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Picking the right headphone for your child?

The pandemic has made ear plugs a child’s new friend. But keep an eye on the decibel level

Mathures Paul Published 13.05.21, 01:05 AM
Children are using headphones for long hours for videoconferencing and entertainment

Children are using headphones for long hours for videoconferencing and entertainment Shutterstock

During the pandemic, it’s commonplace to find a child sitting around the room, listening to music or watching a video while the audio channels through a fancy-looking headphone. Raise your voice and chances are that the child is so engrossed that there is zero response. And chances are that the volume is so high that the kid can’t hear you. Too much headphone use is not fine for children. It’s not just about volume but also about duration that contributes to damage to our kids’ ears.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, around 12.5 per cent of children and adolescents between the ages of six and 19 have already suffered permanent hearing damage from excessive noise exposure. Last month, the World Health Organisation said that more than a billion young adults are at risk of permanent. It’s not that children are more susceptible to hearing loss than adults but hearing loss can affect speech development.


If we are to go by WHO, the permissible time for safe listening decreases as sound levels increase. The daily recommended safe volume level of any sound is below 85 dB for a maximum duration of eight hours. With every three-decibel increase in volume, the amount of safe listening time cuts in half.

Parents can take a few steps to protect children. First, think of getting noise-cancelling earbuds, which fit into the ears well and are usually better than cheap over-the-ear headphones. With noise-cancelling earbuds, like AirPods Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds or Sony WF-1000XM3, outside noises are easily blocked, even the sounds of a hair dryer. If a set of earbuds have quality ANC, the user wouldn’t need to increase the volume.

You can also choose headphones that come with the ability to limit volume, like at 85 decibels. There are not many choices and some of them are expensive, but you can try manufacturers like Puro Sound Labs, LilGadgets and Philips (SHK2000BL).

In case you are using a parent-child set up on iPads/iPhones, Apple offers a few ways to control volume. Dive into Sounds & Haptics and then choose headphone safety and enable Reduce Loud Sounds. You can also think of allowing notifications if the headphone audio level exceeds WHO’s recommended audio limit over a seven-day period.

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