Tech Tip: Turning Down the Volume for Young Ears
Software settings or special headphones can protect children’s hearing from gadgets that play too loudly.
Q. I worry about my children’s hearing from blasting music through their phone earbuds at high volumes. Is there a way to lower the universal volume?
A. Depending on the device, you may have built-in controls to limit the volume, or you may have to find an app that you like to do the job. With either approach, you can override and lower the phone’s default maximum audio level and decrease it, say to 75 or 80 percent of what the phone can actually produce.
Google’s Android operating system (which often warns users when the volume is set too high) comes in many versions across the various phone and tablet models, so the controls you have will vary. Some Android versions do come with their own tools, like recent Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy Note gadgets, which include a setting to limit the maximum volume.
To use Samsung’s controls, go to the Apps screen, open the Settings icon and select Sound and Vibration, and then Volume. (Menu names may vary based on Android version.) There you can set the default volume for many of the phone’s functions, including ringtone, system alerts and media. To lock the levels, tap the three-dot More options menu on the screen and choose Media Volume Limiter. Once you enable the feature, you can set a custom maximum volume level and secure it with a PIN code.
If your version of Android does not come with volume-limit controls in the settings, you can find apps in the Google Play store to lock the sound levels. These include Volume Limiter (Limit & Lock) and Limit Volume.
Apple includes volume-limiting controls in its iOS software. To set a level, open the Settings app, select Music and, under the Playback area toward the bottom of the screen, tap Volume Limit. On the next screen, drag the slider to your preferred level. (You can prevent someone from changing it back in the Restrictions area of the iOS settings.) For educational purposes, Apple’s site has information about sound and how it affects hearing.
If you prefer a hardware solution, headphones that limit the volume are another way to protect young ears. The Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times, thoroughly tested a wide selection of models and chose the $100 Puro BT2200 wireless headphones as its top pick, with two runner-up models available for less than $33.