Some Children's Headphones Raise Concerns of Hearing Loss, Report Says

A report by tech guide The Wirecutter tries out thirty headphones for children.

ByABC News
December 6, 2016, 7:36 AM

— -- Some headphones marketed for children may not restrict enough noise for young ears, according to a new report published today by the technology guide The Wirecutter.

The Wirecutter tried out 30 different children’s headphones for style, fit and safety by using both a plastic model ear and a few real children.

“There's no governing board that oversees this,” Lauren Dragan, the Headphone Editor at The Wirecutter, told “Good Morning America” in an interview that aired today. Dragan added that the headphones for children all claim to limit volume to around 85 decibels. Sound below the 85 decibel mark for a maximum of eight hours is considered safe, according to the World Health Organization.

The Wirecutter report found that some of these headphones emit sound higher than the 85 decibel mark. To read the full report click here.

The report gave the highest rating for kids' headphones to the Puro BT2200, Bluetooth wireless headphones that retail for around $100 on The Wirecutter notes the Puro headphones met their "volume-limiting test standards" and were liked by kid testers of all ages.

The lowest rating among the products reviewed by The Wirecutter went to a pair of wired headphones by Kidz Gear.

Dragan claimed that the volume limiter on the Kidz Gear headphones could be easily removed by children. The Wirecutter report claims that the audio level is safe with the limiter, but without it, the audio can reach as loud as 110 decibels.

The Wirecutter report notes it is up to adults to monitor children's overall noise exposure. "A limiting circuit alone doesn’t make for safe listening," the report states.

Kidz Gear told ABC News in a statement that in over 15 years they have “never had a customer complaint on using a limiter when needed.”

"Parents and children alike love the fact that the headphones can be happily used in any sound environment," the statement read. "We believe when a volume limiter is used, safe sound is achieved and any issues with volume is a user or configuration issue."

The Wirecutter report comes at a time that one in five teens now suffer from some sort of hearing loss, according to the Journal of American Medical Association. Some doctors say that headphones are to blame for this.

“I’ve seen kids as young as seven who’ve had noise-induced hearing loss,” Dr. Scott Rickert, an otolaryngologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, told ABC News. “They’re listening to their headphones at full blast.”

"We’re really talking about listening to a rock concert on a daily basis,” Rickert added.