I've hesitated over getting headphones for my kids. Growing up in the '80s, I got my first hand-me-down when I was 10 and no one stopped me from -- so I did. I never really stopped either, at least not until I realized I was constantly asking people to repeat themselves and the ringing in my ears was never going away.
While my kids -- ages 7, 8 and 11 -- are fairly responsible, they're still kids and telling them to "turn it down" when using headphones only goes so far, so they typically use and their without headphones. That changed on a recent when I snapped after the backseat erupted in a full-blown audio assault of repetitive video game chiptunes, pop music and movie dialogue.
There's a whole world of kids headphones out there, but in many cases the differences are just about size and design. However, there are headphones like the Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet that, along with being sized for kids, have a volume limiter to stop them from getting too loud. To keep your hearing healthy, it's recommended that you keep volume at or below 85 dB and that's where PuroQuiets stop.
To help balance out the need to turn up the volume, the PuroQuiets have active noise cancellation (ANC) as well as thick earcup cushions. The padding combined with the strength of the headband blocks 82 percent of external sound according to the company, so even with the ANC off they provide solid noise isolation.
The headphones have a balanced sound quality, so they actually sound louder at a lower volume than other headphones. Like the , they have a natural, warm tone with full bass (not big and booming), so they work well for music, audio books and movie and TV dialogue. They're OK for gaming, too.
My kids gave the sound quality a thumbs up, but when your point of reference is a pair of old earbuds or your dad's larger, heavier over-the-ear headphones, anything that fits right is going to be better. And honestly, it was the fit and comfort of the headphones that my kids liked the most. They liked the look of them, too, and since they're made from aluminum they're more durable than the plastic competition. Left and right markings inside the earcups made it easier for them to know how to put them on and the controls are large enough for them to easily use without taking them off first.
After the fit, the option to go wireless was headphones' other big selling point. It's especially helpful in the car since it's one less thing to get tangled in. Battery life is long, rated at up to 16 hours with the ANC and 22 hours on Bluetooth only. The headphones charge with a standard microUSB cable, but if your kids forget to charge them, Puro includes a standard 3.5mm audio cable.
If you want to save some money, the company's BT2200 headphones skip the ANC but offer the same noise isolation and Bluetooth for $20 less. Price is probably going to be the biggest hiccup for most parents since the PuroQuiets cost $100, though they're currently on sale for $80. Given the features and audio and build quality, the price isn't unreasonable. They are essentially adult headphones but sized for kids and with the added benefit of a volume limiter.