Many headphones geared to kids can actually lead to hearing loss

Shockingly, many headphones marketed to kids don't safely restrict volume levels. A new study reveals what's the safest (and most kid-friendly) model parents should buy.

Purple noise cancelling headphones for kids

Photo: Puro Sound Labs

A new study has found that a shocking number of children’s headphones do not limit volume, as marketed. Many of the headphones actually play at levels that can cause hearing loss.

The Wirecutter, a company that researches the best gadgets, tested 30 different headphones with pink noise and discovered that one-third allowed volume levels higher than 85 decibels, the safe level of sound recommended by the World Health Organization for kids. And when it came to listening to music, nearly half of the headphones didn’t safely limit the volume. The worst headphones actually let sound get to levels that could seriously damage your kid’s hearing.

So what should you do, if your kid loves to listen to T-Swizzle on headphones? Don’t panic. The Wirecutter found the best headphones on the market. After their study and talking with the WHO and CDC, The Wirecutter then put the safest headphones to the test to see if they’re actually kid-friendly. Kids ages two to 11 tried the headphones out and decided which ones were the comfiest (meaning they were not were thrown off by angry toddlers). Then the scientists tested how kid-proof they are—they acted like kids and stepped on the headphones and chewed on the cords.

In the end The Wirecutter found the three best headphones for kids. Their number one pick is the Puro BT2200, which not only keeps volumes at a safe level but was the favourite by the kids who tested it out. At $100 it is a bit pricey, but this wireless pair (it uses Bluetooth) will comfortably fit kids as they grow (The Wirecutter tested it on kids ages two-and-a-half to 11). Plus, it comes in lots of colours which is a major bonus for kids.

The two runner-ups were the Onaoff BuddyPhones Explore, which is great for kids ages two to four, and the JLab JBuddies Studio, which is better for older kids. Both headphones are on the cheaper side ($43 and $30 respectively) but your kid will outgrow them.

Read more:
White noise machines: Safe for baby?
Toddler hearing concerns
What to do when your child has earwax buildup

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