A Tale of Three Headsets to Get through Fifth Grade

If you’re concerned about getting the right headset for virtual learning that will help protect your child’s hearing, you’re not alone. Here are the results of my shopping journey to date.

It’s not like my son has never worn a headset before. But over the past year of Zooms and virtual learning, our fifth grader has seemingly had one fused to his head. (Haven’t we all?)

And I’ve been concerned about the level of audio streaming into his ears. Is it too loud? What about the risk of long-term hearing loss?

So I’ve wanted him to wear a headset with volume-limiting capabilities. And I’ve got to tell you, strangely, there’s not a lot of choices out there.

POWMEE is for Younger Kids
I originally landed on a pair of POWMEE P10 Kids Headphones with a built-in microphone on the cord.

The POWMEE worked well, and they were only ten bucks. But the headphones were a little tight on his head. Four months later, they gave out. That may not seem like a long time, but I imagine the designers didn’t assume so many hours of daily use and cable twisting by little hands.

When I realized the POWMEE were small, I immediately initiated a new search to find a bigger headset designed for tween/teen heads.

Even fewer options with volume limiting capabilities exist for that age group. I suppose the idea is a real buzzkill from a marketing perspective.

PuroGamer Barely Got out of the Box
I finally landed on the PuroGamer Volume Limited Gaming Headset, which is targeted for teens. I bought it for $29.99 on Amazon, although it’s now gone up in price.

I got it and threw the box in the back of the closet. I knew the PuroGamer could be called to action at any time.

And the day came when boy my walked into my home office to see me. He had a stricken look on his face. Had Old Yeller gone to the doggy pasture in the clouds? (Actually we have a cat.) Nope. His POWMEE had died.

When I instantly pulled out the replacement, his shock and instant glee were priceless. (I felt like a hero.) And off he scampered with his PuroGamer.

But I didn’t have much time to take my parental victory lap.

The PuroGamer lasted about 2 weeks before the sound in one ear started to fizzle. (The USB connector gave out shortly after that.)

The cable was seemingly the culprit. It couldn’t handle all of the bending and ‘action’ a child will likely offer. Perhaps a gaming teenager wouldn’t give the PuroGamer cable the same workout?

Maybe the fault was mine getting the PuroGamer for a ten year old. Or perhaps I’m just making excuses, and the PuroGamer should be more durable.

Either way, it was back to the drawing board.

Time for an Adult Headset
I eventually decided my mistake had been limiting my search to headsets designed just for kids and teens. It was time to look for adult headsets.

Yes, shopping in the adult aisle is inevitably going to cost more. But I’ve already crossed that line for his sneakers and summer sandals. (He’s growing up fast!)

And unfortunately, technology for kids is often marred with inferior gear that won’t hold up. Yes, it may be cheaper, but you get what you pay for.

I’m certainly seeing that now.

Go with What You Know
As I puzzled over how to attack this new shopping challenge, I took a look at what I had fused to my own skull throughout much of my work day.

I was wearing a Plantronics (Poly) Blackwire C5210T single-ear headset.

My Blackwire headset had been great. It was comfortable, and sported two interface options. (3.5mm and USB connectors)

Like father, like son?

Another Blackwire
So I Googled the Blackwire headset and looked at the specs. And guess what?

Yes, it’s got built-in hearing protection. I didn’t even know!
(The SoundGuard DIGTAL technology protects against sound levels over 118 dBA, and Time-Weighted Average prevents average daily noise exposure from exceeding 85 dBA.)

There’s also a dual-ear design that would be perfect for my son.

Before I made my decision, I called my boy over to try on my headset. Within seconds, I saw that big smile.

Research complete.
Click.

If at First You don’t Succeed
Yes… this headset purchase was expensive. But sometimes you’ve got pay for what you really need. (And by the way, I purposely avoided going down a Bluetooth headset rabbit hole.)

It’s been almost a month, and my boy’s Blackwire headset has been holding up. (Fingers crossed.)

No, I’m not especially excited that it’s taken three headsets to get him through fifth grade, but if that’s the biggest technical glitch through this year of virtual learning, I’ll take it!

More importantly, I’m trying to do what I can to protect his hearing.