Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name





Barbara Weinstein

Subject Categories

Communication Sciences and Disorders | Speech and Hearing Science | Speech Pathology and Audiology


pediatrics, pediatric headphones, headphones, noise induced hearing loss, NIHLrics


Background: In recent years there has been a growing concern regarding the etiology of pediatric hearing loss. Based on cross-sectional studies of data produced by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, the incidence of hearing loss in US adolescents (age 12-19 years) has increased from 14.9 to 19.5% from 1988-2006 (Shargorodsky, Curhan, & Eavey, 2010) (Brooks & Chan, 2017). Many individuals suspect the leading contributor of this to be frequent exposure to unsafe listening conditions (Muchnik, Amir, Shabtai, & Kaplan-Neeman, 2012) (Brookhouser, Wothington, & Kelley, 1992).

Presently there are no government issued regulations on the maximum sound output levels for headphones sold in the U.S. Though a handful of studies have been conducted to investigate the output levels of commercially available headphones, none have utilized calibrated, scientific equipment or have focused on pediatric headphones specifically. This study looks to measure and analyze the maximum output levels of pediatric headphones to determine if they are capable of reaching levels that may be harmful to a child’s auditory system.

Method: Output measurements were obtained in a calibrated sound booth using a Larson Davis sound level meter connected to a preamplifier with one-inch microphone attached. Each headphone under investigation was then connected to the preamplifier with a 500g force placed on top of the earphone to simulate the force of the band against the skull. Using an iPhone X MP3 player, the same song was presented to each headphone. The exact dBA fluctuations were measured throughout the duration of the song via the calibrated sound level meter to ensure that an accurate maximum output level was recorded. The data collected was then analyzed further to determine maximum output levels of each headphone under investigation.

Results: Of the sixteen products tests, 88% of them exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) recommended 85dBA safety limit. Additionally, of the twelve products tested which marketed themselves as being volume limiting, only 16.7% of them were able to adhere to their own restrictions. Products ranged from maximum outputs of 114.5 dBA (Elecder- I37 Kids Headphones) to 81.7dBA (AILIHEN-HD50 Kids Headphones).

Devices were then categorized based on predicted duration until damage, assuming a steady output at or near the maximum output level obtained. The results of this ranged from upwards of 17.2 hours. All the way down to 32.4 seconds. Lastly, average dBA output levels for each category (high-end, mid-level and low-end) were derived. Results suggest that lower-end devices on average produced greater dBA outputs than did either the mid-level or high-end devices.

Conclusion: Pediatric marketed headphones are capable of reaching levels that could result in auditory damage. The results of this study should be used to highlight the importance of not only mandating but strictly enforcing a government issued regulation on maximum sound outputs for pediatric marketed headphones sold in the United States. In addition, further action must be taken to help inform and educate parents about the potential risks the associated with extended headphone usage.

Steps to Health Listening Habits.pdf (370 kB)
Healthy Listening Habits Educational Handout