There’s only so many times a parent can watch Coco or Frozen or Moana. If hearing the theme from Frozen one more time will shatter the last bits of your endurance, it’s time to break out the big guns: It’s time to buy your son or daughter a pair of headphones and let your kiddo watch to his or her heart’s content.
Plus, it’s a safety issue. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, people who are exposed over long periods of time to noise levels at 85 decibels or higher can damage or lose their hearing. And lest you think it’s not an issue for you, consider this: a phone or tablet at its highest volume is about 105 decibels.
While the idea of a dedicated pair of child’s headphones may seem like a waste of money at first glance, they are, by and large, both more affordable and safer than the full-sized versions. Capping the volume to protect young eardrums, they also are more adjustable for growing heads. For those still on the fence, trust us, the most important choice you’ll have to make is whether to choose a cord or upgrade to Bluetooth. Our list of models breaks down the most popular and most unique. By the end, you’ll have a solid primer with which to go shopping, you’ll finally have some peace and quiet.
These are solid headphones for kids ages three and up. The headphones eliminate 85 percent of background noise. And they have built-in volume-controlled circuitry that ensures the sound is within levels recommended safe for young kids.
Pros: The headphones come with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack that’s compatible with just about all phones and tablets. They keep volume at a reasonable 85 decibels. They work for up to 20 hours before needing a charge. They work in either noise reduction mode or common headset mode.
Cons: These are not Bluetooth, so you’re going to deal with wires.
For the parent looking to keep his headphones safe from general child mayhem, the Elecder i37 offers an affordable means of giving a son or daughter a pair. While lacking the features of higher-end (and higher-priced) options, they nevertheless are an impressive and durable package.
Pros: Available in a ton of fun, kid-friendly colors, the i37 has a standard 3.5-millimeter jack and, with the appropriate adapter (sold separately but likely included with your newest iPhone), can be used with USB-C devices. An almost five-foot, tangle-free cord connects the headphones to your child’s device. Adjustable to a degree, we appreciated the included bag in which to store them when not in use.
Cons : The passive headphones (read: no batteries) are nice in the short term, but they lack the amplification of a properly powered set. Furthermore, a cord, regardless of claims as “tangle-free,” is bound to get in the way. Still, they’re affordable, and should your child leave them in an airport or at the park, you’re not out much.
While similar in performance to the Elecder option, parents nevertheless said the noot products K11was the most comfortable headphone in the price range. As such, it’s a worthy addition to the list.
Pros: Besides the uber-comfy foam earcups, these headphones fold up and store away for transport to school or grandma’s house. The 3.5mm jack fits with or is adaptable to most devices, while the five-foot cord is covered with a nylon fabric for protection. The 40mm drivers deliver a decent amount of stereo sound.
Cons : Like the previous set, these headphones fall apart under close scrutiny. Another passive model, they won’t get exceptionally loud, though for young ears this is actually preferred, as your child’s ears might be damaged with too much of a top end.
As its initials suggest, the JBL JR 300BT are the first on this list that are Bluetooth-compatible, which allows you to ditch the cords and their accompanying gnarls and snags. If you can afford it, this is the first truly worthwhile set.
Pros: JBL is a brand long-trusted in the electronics space, and its headphones continue this legacy. A 12-hour battery powers rich sound but governs it to not rise above a potentially damaging 85 decibels. Kid-friendly buttons allow a manner of control from the unit, while we appreciated its quick-recharge mode, which yields one hour of power after a 10-minute charge. Finally, an included sticker pack allows your child to both customize the device and ensure it doesn’t get mixed up with a friend’s.
Cons: Some customers complained that its stretchy band over time lost its ability to bounce back. While this appears to be isolated instances, we’re reassured by the company’s reputation for strong customer service should this happen.
LilGadgets’ Untangled PRO is all about the group. Its device is the only on this list that is designed to connect as part of a group, thereby letting all hear—and enjoy—the media. If you’re buying in bulk for multiple children, this is a clear frontrunner.
Pros: With its Bluetooth connected, other Bluetooth devices can daisychain to it, allowing others to enjoy the video. A 12-hour battery life (or approximately five Finding Nemos) is further insured from power failure thanks to a hardwired, 3.5mm jack option should the juice run out on viewing number six. A microfiber travel bag is also included.
Cons: While some may appreciate the multi-connection ability, in our experience, children tend to watch media individually. As such, the higher price for this feature may not be worth it.
For noisy environments, there are few headphones better for your child than the Puro Sound Labs BT2200. Its noise-cancelling ability allows your child to focus on what they’re watching while allow you to field the chaos.
Pros: While these Bluetooth headphones go to the benchmark 85 decibels, what distinguishes them from others is their cancelling of 82 percent of ambient noise. They also increase the battery life of previous headphones on this list, lasting for up to 18 hours of continuous use. Small fingers easily navigate on-unit controls, while a 30-foot wireless range is one of the greatest on this list.
Cons: For this price, you could easily get yourself a great pair of headphones and a decent pair for your child. For some, spending so much on children’s headphones won’t make sense.
If not the gold standard for audio, Bose is certainly representative of the upper echelon of sound performance. But beyond this, what we loved most about the BOSEbuild Headphones was their user assembly, which is a means of working on something with your child.
Pros: The build-it-yourself headphones require a few hours of work, but an integrated app offers step-by-step instructions, included augmented reality games and learning opportunities that illustrate how sound moves in waves. The process is fun and educational, and the result is a pair of wireless Bose headphones that has the same noise-cancelling performance of the company’s pre-assembled models. Because of the complexity, it’s recommended for ages eight and up.
Cons: This is a lot to drop on headphones, but if you look at it as an opportunity to develop STEM skills, the price is easier to swallow. Overall, if your son or daughter can assemble Lego Harry Potter sets, he or she will have a blast with this.
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