New Report Sheds Light on Headphone Safety for Kids

It's not uncommon for kids— some barely out of diapers— to use their parents' headphones or headphones specially marketed to children. While using mini headphones enjoy music and more is fun for little ones, a larger question remains: Is it safe?

A new report from Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, M.D., cofounder and CEO of AcousticSheep LLC, reveals important concerns about the growing popularity of headphones for kids. Dr. Lai examined popular pairs of headphones marketed toward children as young as two years of age. Her research shows that these headphones pose four very real risks to young children. They include:

  • Hearing loss: Previous research already shows that 30-50% of headphones on the market exceed safe listening levels. Meanwhile, Dr. Lai's in-house analysis revealed that there was no volume-limiting functionality hardware on any of the less expensive kids' headphones she examined. This is especially alarming in light of the fact that one in five U.S. teens has some form of hearing loss— a 30% increase since the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Strangulation: More than 1,000 unintentional infant and child suffocations each year. Long cords on many of today's headphones pose a definite suffocation risk to kids.
  • Choking: Many of the headphones Dr. Lai analyzed contain parts made of plastic, metal, foam, or vinyl that can become lodged in a child's airway.
  • Swallowing speaker magnets: When taken apart, most headphones contain two small magnets. Major intestinal damage can result when small children swallow both magnets since they will attract as they make their way through the body. This often requires major surgery to remedy.

These four risks are present in far too many headphones on today's market. Sadly, many of these headphones are even being marketed as safe for kids when they aren't. For these reasons, Dr. Lai discourages parents from buying corded, poorly built headphones for young kids under six years of age. It's also recommended that parents monitor volume levels— kids should be able to hear a parent speaking when using headphones.

Dr. Lai also reminds parents that while AcousticSheep headphones may come without many of the risks present in more traditional headphones, SleepPhones® and RunPhones® are not recommended for children under six.

Read the entire "Not So Safe: An Analysis of Headphones and Children's Safety" report by Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, M.D.

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