Are there any health risks in earbuds?

Assuming moderate use (say, no more than 1-2 hours a day) of music that is not overly loud - e.g. no heavy metal but some classic rock on their MP3 players - is there any health related reason to force children to listen to music from a speaker vs earbuds?

Just to clarify - these are their separate personal earbuds at home; so there's no hygienic concern at all.

Merely physical effect on the ear from the earbud being there; or effect on hearing.

  • Heavy metal is not the problem, per se. It's the volume. Loud Bachman Turner Overdrive is much more dangerous for the ears than soft Black Sabbath. Commented May 21, 2014 at 14:19
  • 2
    You do not mention loudness apart from "not overly loud". That should be "as loud as a spoken conversation, and not much louder". Hearing loss from headphone use is totally avoidable - quiet music and short sessions.
    – DanBeale
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 20:31
  • There might be a way to control the maximum volume on whatever devices they are using. So you can set the max to what you think is good, and not allow them to turn it up higher. (iPods have this feature, but I'm not sure what else does)
    – Bobo
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


The rule of thumb for traditional headphones is that if you as a parent can hear the music your child is listening to, it's too loud and your child should turn the volume down before they start damaging their hearing.

Earbuds leak less sound, though, so you have a harder time policing the volume level. By the time it gets loud enough for you to hear, your child may already be damaging their hearing.

  • "if you as a parent can hear the music your child is listening to, it's too loud" - hear it from how far away?
    – Vikki
    Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 18:59

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