What are your rules about kids wearing earbuds?

My soon-to-be teenager loves her iPod and loves listening to music and videos all the time. So routinely she has earbuds in her ears apparently rendering her deaf – at least to her mother asking her to do things.

She supposedly has the feature where you can click something and they are supposed to be able to hear people but she rarely seems to respond on the first attempt to communicate with her.

She truly is a great kid. She gets all As and is agreeable and respectful almost all the time. This is a small complaint but it is very frustrating repeating myself to be heard. (It’s like I’m hanging out with my 70-year-old hearing-impaired father, who insists he’s hearing everything.)

So my question is: What are your rules about earbuds? Do you have rules about when and how often they can wear their earbuds?  Do you have the selective hearing problem with or without ear buds?

24 comments Add your comment


October 18th, 2013
5:15 am

No rules. My 10-year-old rarely uses earbuds, and if he does it’s on a plane or somewhere else where whatever he’s doing would bother other people. But generally at home, no earbuds. But then he tends to do most of his screentime on a full-size laptop and sometimes a tablet and doesn’t take his iPod out of the house very much.


October 18th, 2013
5:18 am

Theresa, This is really simple, but it takes a spine. Take the stupid things away from her if she can’t use them properly.
Apparently, the “great kid’, that “is agreeable and respectful almost all the time: is playing you.

Tell her you are going to have “desert purse lady” come to the house and live in her bedroom, or the “van guy with no windows” will be taking her to school from now on…if she doesn’t behave.

Bee Hive Haired cashier at Dooleys Den

October 18th, 2013
5:56 am

Who let the dogs in

October 18th, 2013
6:01 am

I’m sorry…..What?


October 18th, 2013
6:28 am

{rolls eyes} No, that hasn’t even come close to being an issue. Before earbuds came headphones, somehow my parents managed.


October 18th, 2013
6:55 am

There are rules for earbuds? Oh, you mean “L” being for the left ear and “R” being for the right. Got it. No, we never had an issue with this. Our “rules” related to the teenspawns not listening with the volume too loud and not using them when at dinner, etc. They were pretty good about getting the “L” and “R” parts correct.


October 18th, 2013
7:13 am

Earbuds are fr limits if they keep you from hearing mandatory things, like conversations with an adult, or directions. Let her learn to live without except on long rides or on the bus. If she can’t hear you, they may be impacting her hearing as well.


October 18th, 2013
7:37 am

Not had a problem with my kids and earbuds. I have had an issue with employees and coworkers when you ask them something 5 times over the cubicle and you think they are ignoring you only to find out they have things stuck in their ears. I think there should be “rules” for earbuds everywhere. Like, don’t use them unless exercising (indoors because it’s dangerous to jog or bike outside with them). I guess I just don’t get the desire to be shut off from the outside world. In fact it kind of freaks me out to not know what is going on around me. I’m with Catlady. Long rides are about the only time I would be okay with a kid wearing them. My kids can listen to music in their rooms or anywhere in the house as long as they are not disturbing anyone. If they are in my presence it would annoy me that they were so tuned out they couldn’t answer a simple question or respond to me.


October 18th, 2013
7:37 am

I am with Shaggy, “Take the stupid things away from her if she can’t use them properly.”

Yes the teen is going to have selective hearing and ignore you. It is up to you to show her she cannot get away with it.


October 18th, 2013
7:49 am

I don’t have issues with the kids and ear buds, but I walk the dog and have my ear buds in, listening to my iPhone. I can hardly hears cars coming behind me. That’s the only drawback. That would be my only worry about a young child using them constantly. You really can’t hear the other noises and some you need to pay attention to.


October 18th, 2013
8:02 am

I think there was a study done a few years ago that showed that using ear buds caused hearing loss. The problem is that people tended to listen to things on them too loud so that they could “tune out” or have “selective hearing”.

Your daughter is 12 so this may be the start of the battle of wills. Most teens and parents go through this and 13 seems to be the “kickoff” year. You wouldn’t believe the amount of kids that go from “great kids” to “complete jerks” during this time. It usually (not always) starts with ignoring you, proceeds to eye rolling, and then you’re in it. Of course she may not give you much trouble, but it is important to start paying attention.


October 18th, 2013
8:04 am

I got my son a pair of ear cans (surround the ears like studio headphones). He’s also got some earbuds. We don’t have rules about the earphones, per se. We have rules about the amount of electronic media he’s allowed to consume – iPod, TV, xBox, laptop, Dad’s iPad. He’s not allowed to consume more than 1 hour each day during the week. This usually isn’t a problem because between school, homework, and sports he has no time until right before bed.

Weekends he’s allowed more but not more than 3 hours.

The only rule I guess we have about the headphones is he must take them off while we’re talking to him or his iPod is confiscated.


October 18th, 2013
8:30 am

A teenager ingoring their parents….
This is truly the end of society as we know it.


October 18th, 2013
8:47 am

In my house you get asked to do something once. Failure to comply – including willfully ignoring – equals consequences. It usually only takes once or twice before the point is made.

Real Life

October 18th, 2013
8:54 am

Why do you keep repeating yourself to be heard? If this is an ongoing problem, make your rules about volume and using those ear buds clear. If the rules are not followed take them and the iPod away. Simple, easy, effective. Remember that you are the parent and you set the rules.


October 18th, 2013
11:40 am

You could take the John Rosemond approach: ask the health dept or dr to check her hearing. If she needs them already, get hearing aids. If not, take the buds away from her and she will hear you much better. If it is still a problem, move her bedtime up an hour, to “give her more rest to help her hearing.” One of these things WILL solve the problem!

Sk8ing Momma

October 18th, 2013
2:48 pm

Our house rules:

1. The volume cannot be loud enough for someone other than the wearer to hear.

2. They may not be worn in the car. The car is for conversation and/or listening to whatever is on the car radio/CD/iPod, i.e. No one is her own personal DJ.

3. Listening to something with earbuds is part of being “plugged in”; hence, our regular “plugged in” rules apply, ex. no TV/video games during the week and only 1.5 hrs over the weekend. Also, my daughter may not use her cell phone during the week until ALL school work and chores are done for the day, and she “checks it in” each night. It is stored in a box on my dresser @ 8:30PM.

4. No earbuds at social events.


October 18th, 2013
5:28 pm

Sk8ing momma, I like your rules, except on a long trip, I am in favor of everyone being relaxed Andy” in their own world” except the driver. Short trips (ie the 30 mile round trip to town) conversation would be great!

I also agree with your limits on TV/video. I am betting your children are learning a lot!

Cell phone wasn’t much of a problem. The danged mountains rarely move long enough.


October 18th, 2013
5:52 pm

This might be one of the pettiest parental complaints I have heard. You have a good kid, but you want to nit pick her even more because you have to be a parent. Gosh. You should ground her. How dare she inconvenience you by making you repeat yourself.

My 12 year old and 15 year old both use headsets when they play on the computer. Sometimes they hear me, sometimes they do not. And when they don’t, I simply walk down the hall to get their attention. Simple as that.

None of this my house, my rules crap. I believe in mutual respect and being a role model, not authoritarian. And that plays an even bigger role when it comes to discipline and addressing issues.


October 19th, 2013
7:47 am

Earbuds were not around when my two lived at home. They do not use them when they come to visit us or we are together.

@ Zinc…I grew up in a ” my house my rules” family. It was not fun but it is not always crap. There does need to be balance. We chose this approach with our children. Some things ARE my house my rules. Some things are flexible. Some things are not.

This is because children will move into a world where:

My business my rules
My college class my rules
My homeowner association my rules
My airline my rules

Children who know that some things are negotiable and some are not, tend to be able to navigate life easier and are not always pushing the envelope. Of course, there are some things each of us find ridiculous and so we part ways with the person who is mandating those things….as adults since we get to make our own choices and support ourselves.

@Sk8ing…great points. I recently ready this: effective parents produce successful children. You are on your way IMHO. I am enjoying watching peers of my children who are now on their way to success. Great young adults. Great to see their potential.


October 19th, 2013
7:48 am

Comment gone….bummer!


October 19th, 2013
9:23 pm

homeschooler: Usually, in a professional workplace, you walk around to the person’s desk and you don’t yell at them five times over the wall. Perhaps that’s why they began wearing ear buds in the first place?


October 20th, 2013
8:13 am

One final note: I can’t tell you how many times I have been inches from hitting people (primarily college kids) who, while listening to their ear buds, just step off the curb into the street right in front of me, against the traffic light and completely in their own little worlds. There was a college student actually hit by a car in downtown Atlanta a couple of years ago for doing just this. Same goes for listening to ear buds while driving your car because with them on, you can’t hear car horns or emergency sirens. So yes, there should be rules on when they are used, and at what volume. Establish these rules early, because it might just be the life of your child or an unsuspecting driver on the road that you save.


October 20th, 2013
6:10 pm

@Bisnono: You should see the video of the young woman in Korea who almost gets hit by a car – scary enough. And then, she almost (even closer it is so terrifying) gets hit by a truck. It is frightening to watch – but if you’ve seen it in person, you probably don’t need a replay.