Kid Safe Headphones?

I have a good friend Trisha whose father is an otologist. Otologists study the anatomy and pathology of the ear, and Trisha’s father specialized in hearing loss.

When Trisha was growing up, her father made her (and her three older sisters) wear ear plugs every time they blow dried their hair.

“Hearing loss is cumulative,” he used to tell them, as he bought earplugs by the case.

This story has haunted me for years.

At a Blue Angels air show last year, I made my kids wear protective headphones (the super-attractive kind that gardeners wear when using leaf blowers). I keep the car stereo volume annoyingly low. I make my kids cover their ears with their hands when a fire engine roars past.

I’m that mom.

So it will come as no surprise that I’ve never been entirely comfortable with headphones on airplanes (less so now that earbuds have pretty much replaced their foam-covered predecessors), but have treated them as a necessary evil. A flight without movies is not a flight I want to take.

That’s why I was overjoyed to discover a product called iHearSafe Earbuds. No matter how high the volume is turned on the connected device, the earbuds themselves will never go louder than 85 decibels.

Perfect, right?

Confident that my worries were over, I ordered two pairs and then left immediately on an 11-hour flight to England.

In the hush of the car, they worked like a dream. In the calm of the airport, they performed admirably. In row 32 of United flight 954, the honeymoon was over.

Now I can’t tell you how loud the jet engines are inside the cabin of a Boeing 747, but I can tell you how loud a 6-year-old boy is when he realizes The Spiderwick Chronicles is starting, and he can’t hear.

Very, very loud.

We rang the flight attendant call button (if ever there was an on-board emergency for our family, this was it) and explained that we would be needing a pair of headphones after all. Crisis averted.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for now for kid safe headphones. At least for air travel.

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August 20th, 2008 | by Jamie Pearson 11 comments

11 Responses to “Kid Safe Headphones?”

1. Jennie C. on August 20th, 2008

Good to know.

2. Mara on August 20th, 2008

This sooooooo would happen to me. Thank you for sharing (BTW, was that movie OK for a 6-year-old? We’ve read all the books and my oldest is agitating to see it. I was worried that it would be too scary.)

3. Rich Pearson on August 21st, 2008

Max needs a haircut in that photo.

4. Jamie Pearson on August 21st, 2008

That’s a brand-new haircut you doofus! This is why you are never, not ever allowed to take the kids to the hairdresser.

5. Gretchen on August 23rd, 2008

It’s funny you write about this. I’m still that way with my own hearing. I went to an Ozzy Osbourne and Korn concert and was the only person standing at the stage wearing earplugs! Yes, I am one of those people. Security laughed, but they were all wearing earplugs, too!

6. MudslideMama on August 26th, 2008

Great post!
My mother-in-law is a social worker for people with acquired hearing loss, so she’s gotten me quite paranoid (I mean, AWARE) about the dangers of unprotected little young ears in loud places. I think it’s too late for me and my old ears, though – too many rock concerts in Madison Square Garden and the Meadowlands when I was a teenager!

7. Jane on August 26th, 2008

What about all the data on how earplugs are bad for your ears? Sorry to make you more paranoid! It’s a bit like sun cream – protects you from cancer but gives you cancer!!!!!

8. Rob Finlay on September 17th, 2008

Thank you for your comments on our product. iHearSafe was founded by a Mom who like you was concerned about her children’s hearing. We are a very small family owned business and feedback like this really helps. In November we will have newer models that include earbuds that should help with noisy environments (like a plane). We are passionate about protecting our children’s hearing so In the meantime if there is anything we can do for you, or answer any questions, please feel free to contact us.

9. Jamie Pearson on September 17th, 2008

Rob, thank you so much for taking the time to write. Your product is a good one, and (thankfully!) not all travel involves airplanes.

Keep us in mind when you roll out that new product.

10. susan tam on December 8th, 2010

wow so awesome you told us this. i might buy them anyway but at least i won’t be really angry when we get on the planned flight! will just use them for other things. thanks.

11. James Siggers on November 29th, 2011

The link in the article to the headphones that limit to 85 dB is dead, but have been hunting around and found these dB Logic volume limiting headphones and earphones that do the same thing.


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