When my then-8 year old daughter asked for her own portable CD player and headphones for Christmas, I wasn't sure how to respond. Yes, my children have most definitely benefited from listening to Adventures in Odyssey, Jonathan Park, and miscellaneous Christian music CDs - but would giving her headphones damage her hearing?
Why You Should Be Concerned
In 2010, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one in every five teens has at least slight hearing loss; for one in every 20, the hearing loss is more severe. An Australian study found that kids who listen to music through earbuds or headphones had a 70% increased risk of hearing loss. And according to The Journal of Pediatrics, hearing loss from earbuds or headphones isn't just a problem for teens; in their study, kids as young as 6 showed hearing loss.
As someone who has genetic hearing loss, let me stress that even a slight decrease in hearing loss is a big deal. It dramatically decreases a person's ability to communicate and learn - and can be a cause for embarrassment and lower self esteem. So for many reasons - some obvious, some less so - I was concerned about my daughter using headphones.
How to Prevent Hearing Loss in Children and Teens
But according to audiologists and other experts, completely banning earbuds and headphones isn't necessary...as long as you can ensure your kids listen to media at a lower volume. According the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), listening to anything above 85 decibels (dB) for 8 hours can permanently damage hearing. The louder the sounds, the quicker hearing loss occurs.
Unfortunately, almost all listening devices, earbuds, and headphones allow kids to listen to music at levels much higher than 85 dB...and most kids do.
That's why I'm loving the audiologist recommended headphones KidzSafe sent for me to try out. Because, let's face it, even when we give our kids strict rules about volume level, they are forgetful, tend to think turning it up "just a little" is no problem...and we're not always around to turn down the volume. But KidzSafe headphones never go over 85 dB. In other words, they could literally save your child's hearing.
That by itself is fantastic, but I wanted to know whether the sound quality was decent, too - and whether the headphones were comfortable and durable. (My children, now 9 and 6, aren't exactly gentle with things.)
I began by having my husband, an audiophile who used to be a professional sound man, try out the headphones. Initially, he was concerned the volume would be so low the listener wouldn't hear a broad spectrum of sounds through them. But once he tried listening through them, he was really impressed. "The sound through these things is as good as other headphones I have costing in excess of $50," he said. (KidzSafe headphone cost considerably less.) He also liked the fact that the cord plugs and unplugs from the headphones themselves. "That's usually something only higher end headphones feature," he said. "The fact that it has a replaceable cord offers further value, as the cord is often the failure point in a pair of headphones."
Next, I tried the headphones. I agree the sound is excellent - much better quality than your average children's headphones or earbuds - and definitely the quality of a good pair of adult headphones. They are also covered with some type of faux leather that is super soft and attractive. I also like that the headphones come with a matching drawstring bag for storage and safe keeping.
Next, I had my daughter try out the headphones. She loved that they were comfortable, easy to adjust to her head, and that she could put on contrasting ear pads and wires, if she wanted. Oh, and did I mention the headphones come with stickers? I chose not to have her put them on (frankly, the headphones just seem too nice for that), but she was happy to have them for other things. And my son? Well, he's the least picky of all of us, but he loved them, too.
None of us could find anything we disliked about these headphones.
So if you're looking for safe, attractive, comfy, and durable headphones for your children or teens, I highly recommend this product. At $29.95, the headphones are well worth the cost. They are available in pink, blue, grey, and purple. Each adjustable pair comes with 50 removable stickers, two tangle-free cords, two sets of snap-on ear pads,
and a drawstring bag for storage. The headphones are made with 3.5mm gold plated connectors
and custom 40mm drivers.
KidzSafe also offers other hearing-safe products, including wireless speakers and a speaker case. You can learn more about KidzSafe products at their website: www.kidzsafeaudio.com, on Facebook, or at Twitter.
FTC Disclosure: I received a KidzSafe Audio Gear product for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.