Noise-Cancelling Headphones – Are They Worth It?

When your child needs a new pair of headphones, what will you buy?

Many kids listen to music while doing homework, riding the bus, or during other times when peace and quiet may not be available. The solution could be a set of noise-cancelling headphones, but are they worth it for your family?

If you are thinking of buying noise-cancelling headphones for kids, doing your research in a few different areas will help you find out if they’re right for you. Read our best headphones for kids review here.

What are Noise-Cancelling Headphones?

Noise-cancelling headphones are designed to minimize the background sounds of loud environments while listening to music.

Here are a few examples of these loud environments in which your children might listen to music:

  • On the school bus or public transportation
  • On aeroplanes or other downtimes on family vacations
  • In loud or busy environments at school or at home
  • In the car

Cancelling out these background noises can help kids to concentrate or relax even when the environment might not be ideal.


When purchasing anything for your kids, the first thing you consider is safety. Why should headphones be any different?

The WHO, in its fact sheet on deafness and hearing loss, estimates that 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.

While some of these preventable causes are injuries and infectious diseases, loud sounds still make the list, specifically the “use of personal audio devices at high volumes and for prolonged periods of time”

Some models of junior-sized noise-cancelling headphones offer a noise reduction safety feature which prevents children and teens from cranking up the music past 85 decibels, keeping their ears safe during long periods of listening.

However, the New York Times tested several models of noise-cancelling headphones and found that the advertised volume limit was not always trustworthy.

The loudest pair of headphones involved in the NY Times’ test made it to 114 decibels, as loud as a live rock concert.

This test also showed that using noise-cancelling headphones connected to a device via wire instead of Bluetooth may allow for these higher, less safe volumes.


We have reviewed a few pairs of headphones specifically for kids and teens.

While some models are not as expensive as others, buying a safe pair of children’s noise-cancelling headphones may involve spending up to $100.

The price tag may be a turnoff for some families, especially considering that children may outgrow their headphones quickly.

In addition, teens will not fit some of the children’s models and may need a larger (and more expensive) adult size.

Noise-Canceling or Noise-Isolating?

What’s the difference between noise-cancelling and noise-isolating headphones?

With noise-cancelling technology, the music plays at a lower quality than with a normal pair of headphones.

Then, the technology creates its own sound waves to block the waves from the disturbances in the environment.

This technology can get expensive, so buying a pair of headphones with noise-isolating technology may be a better choice if your teen needs an adult size.

Noise-isolating technology simply relies on the material and thickness of the headphones to keep noise out.

The idea isn’t any fancier than a thick winter hat over your child’s ears, but it’s still effective for quieter listening in most situations.

Now that you know a little more about safety, price, and different types of technology, you can help your children choose what type of headphone set is best for them.

If your children frequently listen to music in very loud or busy environments, or if your family are frequent fliers, then noise-cancelling headphones may be worth the hefty price for your family.

If this isn’t the case, then you may want to reach for a less expensive pair.