Play it safe with headphones

by the Southern Cross Team
Tuesday , 10 July 2018 - 1-2 minute read
A man smiles with headphones on

We all love our tunes, and with our phones now packing playlists everywhere we go, millennials are taking music appreciation to a whole new level.

On any given day, millennials listen to 75.1% more music than boomers.1

But is all this listening to music on headphones good for you, and is it good for a healthy working environment?

Headphones can help productivity in the workplace by allowing us to block out distractions and get in the right mood to perform, but it does come with some risks.

Our unhealthy use of headphones

The World Health Organisation estimates that half of young people (those under 35) in the developed world are listening to their headphones at an unsafe level – and that’s a worrying trend for any workplace that cares about its millennial and Gen Z workforce.2

Tuning-in to safe listening practices

The safe listening level for headphones is between 60-80db.3 For most headphones that’s about half volume. You can also do these simple checks:

Ask those nearby if they can hear your music and if they can turn it down – your ears will thank you, and so will theirs.

Hold your headphones at arm's length – if you can still hear your music, you’re playing it too loud.

Invest in noise-cancelling headphones

If you find you’re playing your music too loudly to block out the noise at work, consider investing in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones. These will allow you to enjoy more of your music, and less of your neighbour’s conversation about his cat. And experience it all at a lower, safer volume.

Your ears might enjoy a rest too.

Take off your headphones periodically when you don’t need them.

Taking your headphones off shows people you’re available, and allows you to share ideas and participate in some banter. And that’s healthy for your workplace culture and your own mental health. Almost one in three millennials say they are always, or often feel, lonely4, so make time to welcome in the world.

This practice could also help protect your ears. One Swedish study has shown the longer and more frequently younger people use headphones, the more likely they are to report hearing problems.5

”Eh?! I can’t hear you.”

If you or anyone in your workplace is actually struggling to hear normal things, get your hearing tested immediately. Some hearing loss can be temporary, but much of it can be permanent. The sooner you know what’s going on, the better for the health of your ears.

And if you’re a Southern Cross member, remember you get a member discount with bloom hearing specialists. So no excuses, make that appointment today.

Want to learn more about the health benefits of music at work? Check out “How music at work makes us better” or “What music makes productivity rock”.


  1. Resnikoff, P. (2016, June 2). Millennials Listen to 75% More Music Than Baby Boomers, Study Finds. Retrieved from
  2. World Health Organisation. (2015). Hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds. Retrieved from
  3. (n.d.)What Is Safe Volume With Headphones? (avoid Hearing Damage). Retrieved from
  4. Firestone PH D., L. (2019, September 18). Why Millennials Are So Lonely | Psychology Today. Retrieved from
  5. Widén, S. E., Båsjö, S., Möller, C., & Kähäri, K. (2017, June 1). Headphone Listening Habits and Hearing Thresholds in Swedish Adolescents. Retrieved from

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