Balancing screen time with time away from our digital devices is the goal for every family in the digital age. We want our kids to lead a balanced life and limit their exposure to blue light from screens that can lead to eye strain, but have you ever thought about how digital devices can affect your child’s hearing? Research shows that the constant wearing of headphones and listening at high volumes can permanently damage ears especially if they’re not volume safe headphones.
The statistics are staggering. In 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices like smartphones. Devices exposes nearly 50% of teens and young adults to unsafe levels of sound, defined by the WHO as anything in excess of 85 decibels (dB) for eight hours or 100 dB for 15 minutes. The American Osteopathic Association reports 1 in 5 teens has some form of hearing loss, a rate 30% higher than in the 1908s and 1990s. Experts believe that this is due to the increased use of headphones.
According to the WHO, safe listening depends on the intensity or loudness of sound, and the duration and frequency of listening. Exposure to loud sounds can result in temporary hearing loss or tinnitus which is a ringing sensation in the ear. The WHO says when the exposure is particularly loud, regular or prolonged, it can lead to permanent damage of the ear’s sensory cells, resulting in irreversible hearing loss.
How Volume Safe Headphones Prevent Hearing Loss
Children’s headphones that limit decibel output are a good idea but not all are created equally. According to The Wirecutter, a product recommendations site owned by The New York Times, half of the 30 sets of children’s volume safe headphones tested did not restrict volume as promised. They found the worst headphones produced sound so loud that it could be hazardous to kids’ ears in minutes. Since headphones may carry risk of hearing loss while our kids are wearing them to play games and educational apps, stream video content, and listen to favorite music, it’s important to know what to look for when shopping for volume safe headphones to protect your kids’ ears from hearing loss.
5 Features to Look for When Shopping for Volume Safe Headphones
While it may seem like a good idea to be thrifty when it comes to purchasing certain items, you can’t put a price on protecting your child’s hearing so do your research before you buy. Also ensure that when you make your purchase, you can return or exchange your volume safe headphones in case they don’t work out. Younger kids are just as sensitive to touch as tweens, teens, and adults, so you’ll want to get them a pair that feel just right and don’t slip off their heads so they’ll want to wear them to protect their ears.
Decibel Output Limited to 85 dB
The most important feature to look for when shopping for volume safe headphones is the decibel output. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines disabling hearing loss as loss greater than 30 decibels (dB) in the better hearing ear in children and recommends limiting the output of decibels to 85. Over the years, we’ve tested numerous pairs of children’s headphones. We always look for volume control features to limit the output of decibels to 85 as recommended by the WHO but the following features are also important.
Headphones for adults don’t work well for children. Grown-ups tend to have bigger heads so over the ear styles are likely to slide down while in-ear ones don’t fit their tiny ears well. Since kids don’t want to wear uncomfortable headphones that squeeze your head, feel strange in your ears, or don’t feel good over your ears, be sure to look for volume safe headphones specifically made for children.
Bluetooth Connectivity with a Long Battery Life
You can eliminate the possibility of getting tangled in wires with a set of volume safe headphones that have Bluetooth connectivity. While this may seem like a pricey feature for a set of kids’ headphones, you’ll find that you can find high quality pairs of volume safe headphones that feature both Bluetooth connectivity and a long battery life for under $75.
Years ago I tested some volume safe headphones that featured two thin wire bands that went over the head and connected ear pieces that were covered in foam and didn’t come with a case. Even though my kids are pretty careful with their stuff, you can imagine how they fared on a cross country airplane trip. The wires bent easily and the foam tore from the earpieces when the headphones were slipped in their backpacks and rattled around with their other treasures. While you might not be able to test durability immediately out of the box, it’s worth it to invest in volume safe headphones that look like they’ll last.
Young kids are just as savvy about style as adults and don’t want pairs that make them look like little kids. Fortunately, there are plenty of over the ear volume safe headphones that are fashionable, sophisticated, and come in their favorite colors so they can protect their hearing in style.
Puro Sound Labs Junior Jams Volume Safe Headphone Review and Giveaway
Now that you know that not all headphones for kids are created equally and have a list of features to look for, don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer number of products marketed as volume safe headphones. My recommendation is to start by looking at options from Puro Sound Labs, a company founded by a father whose youngest daughter was diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss because of the headphones she wore to school every day.
We recently got our hands on two pairs of their JuniorJams ($69.99) headphones and even though Puro Sound Labs is an award-winning leader in Healthy Ears® kids headphones (and the company that The Wirecutter said made “the best option to protect growing ears” after their 80 extensive hours of research), the real test is always when I hand products over to my kids for testing. I thought 11 year old Thomas and Emily (age 14) would be overly critical of volume safe headphones marketed to kids but was pleasantly surprised that my in-house two critics really liked them.
Thomas was in charge of the unboxing and right from the start, it’s easy to see how JuniorJams set themselves apart from other volume safe headphones. The square white box features a vivid image of the color of headphones you’ll find inside. The packaging downplays the fact that JuniorJams are designed for kids. The box itself is sturdy and weighty, like you would expect from a certain company that sells iDevices, a pleasant and unexpected surprise especially when compared to other kids’ headphones we’ve received that come packaged in plastic clamshells.
Slide off the outer wrapper and lift the lid and inside you’ll find a sturdy black case with JuniorJams tucked inside. A set of three cords is contained in the cardboard rectangle in the box so be sure to open it, find the micro USB cord, and plug in your JuniorJams to charge them.
It doesn’t take long to charge them nor does it take long to pair them with a mobile device so your child can listen cord-free thanks to built-in Bluetooth. Built-in Bluetooth may seem like a luxury feature but it’s nice to not have to deal with tangled cords or your child getting tangled in the cords. Plus the long battery life of JuniorJams provides 22 hours of playback time which means your child won’t run out of battery on that cross country flight or road trip, even if they forget to plug them in to charge.
JuniorJams have all the features your child will want in a pair of headphones and because they’re stylish, comfortable, and provide great sound, they won’t even realize that they’re designed to preserve their hearing. I didn’t tell Thomas that the JuniorJams he was wearing limited the decibel output. He felt that the loudest volume setting on the headphones was way too loud but regardless, I am thankful that JuniorJams utilize built-in hearing-safe 85dB volume-limiting technology to keep my kids’ ears below the threshold of damage.
Volume can be controlled on the side of the headphones or via Bluetooth. I love the slider bar that goes from blue (safe listening volume) to orange (loud enough that you can start to hear audio when sitting next to your child) because it provides a nice visual reminder for kids to stay in a safe listening zone.
Another great feature of JuniorJams is the ability to daisy chain them together using an enclosed cord. This is great for families whose kids are required to share a device. One child can wear of pair of Bluetooth connected JuniorJams and another can plug in the physical cord to listen. While it’s great for JuniorJams to be linked together, parents are still on their own when it comes to fighting over the device!
JuniorJams come with a hard carrying case, USB charging cable, 35 mm audio Puro Limiter cable for non-wireless use, a 30 day money back guarantee, and a 1 year full warranty. Additional features include:
- Wireless range up to 30 feet from Bluetooth® source
- Battery life that provides 22 hours playback; 200 hours standby
- Daisy chain technology
- Folds flat for travel
- Made out of protein leather
- Microphone for 2-Way Calling
JuniorJams retail for $79.99 but can be purchased for $69.99 directly from the Puro Sound Labs website and come with free shipping. Tip: Sign up to receive emails from the company and get an additional 20% off your purchase.
Win Two Pairs of JuniorJams Volume Safe Headphones for Your Family!
Puro Sound Labs is providing two pairs of JuniorJams for one very lucky reader so your children can experience wireless Bluetooth technology and the joy of daisy chaining them together to listen or watch together while their ears are protected. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!