Student headphones: an overview and some recommendations – 2022-2023 edition

I often get asked about headphones for students. It’s a difficult question to answer on many fronts. Price is one concern, but so is durability. A microphone is an important consideration since students use apps like Seesaw to record their learning and record voice overs for movies using apps like WeVideo and Adobe Creative cloud. And their age. A kindergartner has different needs than a 5th grader in terms of size, fit, and functionality.

Here is a breakdown of how I approach the K-5 headphone question…

Wired only. No Bluetooth/wireless.

Bluetooth/wireless at home for your personal devices is fine. Bluetooth for school devices, especially in a school or classroom setting, are not necessary nor are they sustainable. There is no guarantee a pair of Bluetooth/wireless headphones will connect to our devices given the custom settings and permissions the District overlays on student devices. In addition, there is no bandwidth for supporting the technical aspects of students connecting and using Bluetooth/wireless headphones.

Wired headphones are simple and reliable. Bluetooth/wireless are not supported.

So, which pair of wired headphones to purchase?

Things to consider:


  • don’t want to spend a lot, the headphones are most likely getting heavy, less than gentle, use and they’re living in the classroom, not a quiet spot at home
  • don’t want to spend too little, cheap headphones are exactly that, cheap. Liable to break more easily, requiring additional purchases, poor sound quality, bad fit, etc
  • Spending too much is a waste waiting to happen, and spending too little is throwing good money after bad
  • I think $20 is the maximum that should be spent on a pair of headphones that live at school. In the $15-20 range there are quite a few high quality headphones that will be a much better investment that 5 pair of $5 ones.


  • decibel limiting
    • you want it. 100%. It limits how loud the headphones can go, it helps protects developing ears
  • over-the-ear are the best, especially in K-3. And they’re not a bad idea in 4th and 5th
    • by 5th grade I feel a student can make their own headphone choice however, I would keep it to the same $20 limit or the traditional ear buds (the original Apple ones, not the Air Pods)
  • in-ear/ear bud style aren’t generally sized for children meaning they are a poor fit and don’t always stay in place
  • an in-line mic is an excellent option to have, it adds functionality and in school a mic is something we use quite frequently. Having it on the headphones makes everything more efficient and sound better
    • a boom mic is not recommended as they are more susceptible to breaking
  • headphones designed for kids can be simply small and colorful, or, more importantly, they can have a much more valuable feature; a decibel limiter
    • a set of headphones with a decibel limiter means no matter how high the volume on the device is set, the headphones peak at a safe level to limit potentially ear damaging volume


Here are a few options, ranked in my order of recommendation, that are also highly recommended by a variety of sites I trust:

  1. JLab JBuddies Studio
    • $14.88
    • Amazon link
    • microphone and decibel limiting – both important
    • JLab headphones are consistently on “best of” lists from sites like Wirecutter, PC Mag, and so on
  2. LilGadgets Connect +
    • $19.95
    • Amazon link
    • microphone and decibel limiting – both important
  3. JLab Audio Neon
    • $15.95
    • Amazon Link
    • microphone but no decibel limiting
  4. Ausdom
    • $29 – $32 depending on color
    • Amazon link
    • Amazon Choice item
    • microphone but no decibel limiting

So, there are 4 options to choose from. $20 isn’t a small investment, however I do believe that an investment in one of those 4 will prove to be a more reliable and durable purchase than a pair or $5 headphones. Jumping from $5 to $20 gives more functionality, reliability and durability. And the ones that are decibel limiting and have a microphone on them are the most bang for the buck.

For my own children, a 5th and 7th grader, we own multiple pairs of both Ausdom and LilGadgets Connect+ headphones. We first bought the Connect+ when they were 2nd and 4th graders. We upgrade to the Ausdom when we wanted a set at home and in school. Both Ausdom and LilGadgets Connect+ have held up well and my children still use them regularly

For $14.88 the JLab JBuddies Studio (wired) would be my first choice in 2022.

I hope that assists in your search for a pair of headphones for your child.

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