Kids & Earbuds: How to Prevent Hearing Loss

More than ever before, kids are using technology for education and recreation, both at school and at home.  With so many interactive lessons on the computer, many kids are wearing headphones for several hours a day, substantially increasing the risk of hearing damage. Most kids fail to understand the fact that hearing loss is a permanent condition, and using earbuds at high volumes can certainly cause this condition. In fact, a 2012 study published by The Journal of International Pediatrics showed that over 12% of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 suffer from hearing loss because of using earbuds at excessively high volumes.

How loud is too loud?
Generally speaking, anything louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage, depending on the length of time one is exposed to that noise. As the volume increases above 85 decibels, the length of exposure decreases before damage occurs. According to the Stony Brook School of Medicine, hearing damage can occur when exposed to 95 decibels of noise for more than 4 hours a day. When exposed to noise at 115 decibels, damage can occur within minutes.

To put these numbers in perspective, many smartphones and mp3 players today, including the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, can pump out over 100 decibels of volume when the volume is set to the highest limit. When you consider that earbuds bring the volume even closer to the ears than regular over-the-ear headphones, the need for caution with earbuds is even greater.

Using Earbuds Safely
Though earbuds are worn inside the ear, the good news is that they help block outside noise when worn correctly, so that your child doesn’t have to turn up the volume to dangerous levels in order to compensate. However, the idea here is to make sure that your kids’ earbuds fit properly, so that outside noise doesn’t interfere. Some earbuds, such as Far End Gear’s innovative line of earbuds, come with multiple sets of rubber eartips for a near custom fit. Additionally, Far End Gear’s earbuds are both durable and affordable, and specially designed to keep your kids safe with innovative features such as reflective cords and single earphone technology.

Tips for Preventing Hearing Loss When Using Earbuds
Aside from making sure that your kids use earbuds that fit, there are a few simple guidelines you can teach your kids to follow in order to help prevent damage to hearing.

  • 2 hour time limit. By limiting the overall amount of headphone use, you can substantially decrease the risk of hearing damage. Whether for eduction or entertainment, 2 hours a day should be the limit for any headphone use. If your child uses an mp3 player while walking or taking the bus to and from school, factor in that time as well. Talk to your child’s teachers and ask if headphones are used for educational purposes.
  • Allow your child to use the speakers. Computer and stereo speakers might be a clear, but they’re definitely a safer alternative to constant headphone use.
  • No leakage.  If you or someone else standing a few feet away can hear the sound leaking from the earphones while your child is wearing them, then the volume is definitely too loud.
  • Keep the volume no higher than 6. Though devices and manufacturers differ,  a volume setting of “6” is normally thought of as the ideal balance of loudness and safety when listening.
  • Again, hearing damage is permanent. Make sure your kids understand the consequences of hearing damage: perpetual ringing in the ears, headaches, etc. Remember, reducing your child’s risk of developing hearing damage is up to you.

For more articles and tips on headphone safety, please visit


When it comes to the time limit that you should allow your child to listen to, two hours doesn't seem like a long time. However, you should do what you can in order to prevent hearing loss. Does that limit apply to adults as well? I know that I keep my headphones in at least four hours a day. 


These are great tips to prepare our kids for adult life and protect their hearing in the process. I don't see any reason why people will stop using headphones. More and more children are using electronic devices on a daily basis. They need to know how loud is too loud. As you said, hearing damage is permanent.