Your Child-Safe Headphones May Not Actually Be Safe

When consumers purchase a set of headphones advertised to be appropriate for use by children, they do so based on the assurance — always implied and often explicit — from the manufacturer that the headphones do not present an unreasonable risk of causing serious harm to those children.

Unfortunately, it appears that several headphone manufacturers failed to live up to such assurances, as many of the headphones explicitly advertised as appropriate for use by children may, in fact, present a risk of permanent hearing impairment. Indeed, a recent study by The Wirecutter revealed that:

Despite claims that kids headphones limit volume to 85 decibels (the level the World Health Organization considers “safer”), up to one-third of the kids headphones we tested exceeded that level when measured with pink noise, allowing higher volumes—sometimes much higher. When we went further with our testing, we found that even more of these headphones—nearly half—could be pushed past the recommended 85 dB when measured with actual music. Additionally, many of the headphones we tested had design flaws that could allow a child to bypass their volume-reduction features easily.

For example, the study found that some LilGadgets headphones reached decibel levels above 90 dB and that some Kidz Gear headphones reached decibel levels above 100 dB. As noted by the New York Times in an article about the study, “[t]he worst headphones produced sound so loud that it could be hazardous to ears in minutes.”

The risk associated with these headphones has damaged both users as well as purchasers. In addition to claims for damages attributable to use of the headphones, purchasers of the headphones may have valid claims against the manufacturer for the diminished value of the headphones. Indeed, when consumers purchase headphones for their children reasonably believing, because of deceptive and misleading product labeling and advertising, that they are safe for use by children, when they, in fact, may not be, the company selling those headphones has been unjustly enriched at the consumers’ expense.

The attorneys at Finkelstein, Blankinship, Frei-Pearson & Garber, LLP have successfully brought lawsuits on behalf of consumers aggrieved by such deceptive product labeling and advertising. If you or someone you know has purchased headphones because they were marketed as safe for children, contact us to discuss your legal options.