Headphone Safety Tips

Wearing headphones has become increasingly popular. Unfortunately, about 14 percent more of our 9 to 11-year-old children are showing signs of hearing loss. This is due to overexposure to loud music through personal listening devices but there are ways to prevent damage to their ears. We can limit our time with our headphones or just keep the volume lower. Our best defense could be picking the correct headphones. I have found a few ways to avoid common mistakes we all fall into while wearing headphones. I hope you enjoy Cathy’s Tuesday Tip! ~Cathy

When heading to your local electronic store to make this purchase, what are you looking for in a good set of headphones? Is it style, sound quality, or for hearing protection? When choosing a set we should be considering the length of time that they will be in use at any certain time.

Not Wearing Noise Cancelling Headphones

Experts say we are using headphones in noisier environments – on airplanes, while shopping, and even while vacuuming. Turning up the volume high enough to hear clearly could be dangerous to our hearing. The World Health Organization estimates by 2050 over 900 million people worldwide could have disabling hearing loss, that is 93 percent more than those who do today. This number is so high, in part, due to the volume that we use on our audio devices.

Noisy environments ALWAYS require noise-canceling headphones. If voices must be raised to hear in this situation, the volume will need to increase on the device which is too high for our ears.

Exposing ourselves to loud noises over time can kill off the hair cells in our ears that send sound signals to our brain. If we kill too many, guess what, we will suffer from hearing loss. Can you believe that our phone can be cranked up just as loudly as the old school Walkmans from the ’80s and ’90s? The only difference between them is that now we can use our headphones for more extended periods and for more than just listening to the latest New Kids on the Block tape.

How Loud for How Long

A new rule has emerged with the rise of headphone use, it’s the 80-90 rule. If the volume is at 80 percent of the maximum volume, do so for no longer than 90 minutes per day. This can be hard to track. Newer models of headphones, such as Bose headphones, have built-in features that track how long and how loudly the device has been in use. They will either adjust the volume accordingly or warn the consumer of dangerous levels.

Two Ears Two Headphones

Ears are a team and work in unison. Since sound does not seem as loud when using one earbud, the tendency to increase the volume is greater which puts you at risk for hearing loss.


If using headphones while participating in activities that require hearing environmental noises, please DO NOT wear headphones. Driving and cycling are great examples of when not to use headphones because hearing warning signals are imperative in these situations.

Next time you are shopping for a new set of headphones, please take all of these risks into consideration to prevent hearing loss. Headphones are convenient, and, for the most part, are safe.

I hope you enjoyed Cathy’s Tuesday Tip this week. To view more of Cathy’s Tuesday Tips, visit our blog.

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