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Here are some volume-limiting headphones your kids might actually wear

Swedish audio company Happy Plugs has a new set of Bluetooth headphones aimed at the 3- to 15-year-old crowd. And while the $80 Happy Plugs Play might be intended for kids, they look just like a set of regular adult headphones — in fact, they bear a strong resemblance to Bose’s high-end Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. And that could make all the difference when it comes to getting kids to wear them.

The Happy Plugs Play are volume-limiting, which means that their maximum volume level has been capped at 85 decibels (dB), the widely agreed-upon upper limit for safe listening. Given what we know of the long-term impact of listening to loud sounds — known as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) — it’s really important to ensure that children use their headphones safely. Trouble is, like most things that are safe or good for us, volume-limiting headphones for kids tend to look childish or cheap — or both. These designs might be accepted by the very youngest children, but older kids have much more sophisticated tastes.

Two girls wearing Happy Plugs Play headphones.
Happy Plugs

“The headphone industry has focused on meeting adult preferences, and the younger user has often fallen short of the same high-quality experience,” Andreas Vural, founder of Happy Plugs, said in a press release.

Just like adult headphones from Bose, Sony, or Apple, the Happy Play Plugs come in three decidedly non-childish colors: White, black, and Ping Gold. You won’t find stickers, big logos, or cheap-looking materials on them, either. Instead, kids get a set of wireless cans that do nothing to give away the fact that they’re safe.

Hands holding Happy Plugs Play headphones.
Happy Plugs

Beyond their sophisticated design and volume-limiting circuitry, the Play headphones also have a cool feature for audio sharing. Using either the USB-C or analog ports, the headphones can pass through their audio to another set of headphones via the included cable.

Claimed battery life is a decent 25 hours, which should be more than enough for a full day. If it’s not, a 10-minute quick charge will get you an extra five hours of listening time. The surfaces of the headphones have also been treated with an antimicrobial coating known as Biomaster, which Happy Plugs says can reduce the growth of unwanted microbes that can cause degradation, discoloration, staining, and odors by up to 99.99%.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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