We spent the past year evaluating the best headphones for students who are remote learning. While this fall, plenty of kids are headed back to school in person, we know that some will still be staying home, some will be doing hybrid learning, and with the pandemic still here, there are still lots of online courses, tutoring, and extracurriculars.
In other words, our kids still need decent technology, and we’re glad to see so many options for kids of all ages.
– This post has been updated for 2021 –
There are a lot of factors we’ve considered to recommend the best headphones for students — background noise cancelling (hello, working parents in the other room), size, fit, comfort, and of course, durability because an 8-year-old can be hard on their tech! (Let alone a teen.)
We’re also factoring in price, because $400 headphones, brilliant as they may be, are not in most families’ budgets. In fact, you may be surprised at how affordable a terrific pair of headphones for students can be!
So, we’ve narrowed down our list to 6, for students of all ages with all kinds of needs. We hope it’s helpful for you as you do your back to schooling shopping this year.
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6 of the best headphones for students of all ages
1. Best headphones for students: Our top pick for young kids
Last year, the New York Times chose the best pair of headphones for children and their clear winner after 80 hours of research: these Puro Sound Labs Kids’ Headphones. And after researching ourselves, we have to agree.
What edges them to the top of the pack? A combo of volume-limiting control, noise-cancellation and comfort. We also love the 18-hour battery life, which means your kid can successfully get through two entire days of school — great for those nights when we forget to charge them. (Not just us, right?)
Plus, the Puro Sound Labs headphones block 82% of background noise, a definite help for kids trying to focus on their lesson or online homework, not the loud construction crew on the street outside. ($99 at Amazon)
2. Best headphones for students: Our top affordable headphones for teens
We had a lot of factors to consider for the best headphones for students who are little older— affordability, comfort, sound quality, and of course, style. Ultimately, we landed on the Anker SoundCore Noise-Cancelling Headphones as our best overall affordable headphone pick for teens.
What’s great about these wireless headphones are that for under $60, they reduce background noise by 90% and offer up to 40 straight hours of playtime even in wireless noise-cancellation mode. They fold up easily and come in a protective case so kids can just toss them in their backpacks if they’re coming and going. Fans unanimously say that the value far surpasses the price — and some reviewers even compare them favorably to brands like Bose. Wow.
The built-in mic is great for participating in online calls and classes, and teens will love the hybrid sound functionality for music when they’re not using them for school, too.
We hear the kids like the music.
($59.99 on Amazon)
3. Best Headphones for Students: Our top higher-end headphones for teens
While the rest of this list focuses heavily on affordability, if your budget allows, we cannot say enough wonderful things about Sony’s WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones with Mic These are the headphones that Liz described as being so good, she waited a whole year for them to go on sale — and they often do, so keep an eye out.
They are super comfortable, whether you’ve got a small middle schooler or a fully grown 18-year-old, the noise-cancelling is just spectacular, and they offer a full 30 hours of battery life without needing a charge .If you do run out of juice mid-lesson though, it’s amazingly fast to recharge — in just about 10 minutes of charging you get 5 more hours of playback. That’s a lifesaver for online school.
In fact the noise cancelling is so good, Liz says that both she and her daughter wear them even without listening to anything, just to tune out the noise of the world sometimes.
Super spendy for sure, but this is a case where you get what you pay for. If your budget allows, they really the best headphones for students who can handle the responsibility of taking good care of them.
(Currently $279 on sale at Amazon)
4. Best Headphones for Students: Most durable for young kids
If you’ve got a younger kid who tends to break things, then you definitely want to factor durability into your choice. For you, we’d recommend Onanoff’s BuddyPhones Play headphones as the best headphones for students like yours. They are built to stand up to a rough and tumble kid who may drop them, spill water on them, or ride over them with their bike. Maybe all three (though hopefully not at once.)
I love that they have four distinct listening modes with different levels of noise cancellation — especially StudyMode, which enhances spoken audio content so that kids can hear teachers’ voices or educational video narration more clearly over any background noise at home. And a built-in BuddyJack system lets siblings or friends listen to one device together.
What kids may love best though is that they come in 4 fun colors, and each one comes with fun decals that give kids a chance to customize their own look.
($39 at Best Buy)
5. Best headphones for students: Our top affordable earbud with noise-cancellation
If you have teens you can trust to keep up with a set of earbuds, then Urbanista London earbuds are a solid alternative to AirPod Pros. You know we love Apple products, but for kids, these are far more affordable, and offer comparable benefits for online school functionality.
The battery life is long enough to get through a school day, and the case will power the earbuds through four more full recharges. Plus they offer both background noise cancellation and ambient sound modes, which I know have helped my teen focus on his work while his 6-year-old sister runs around the house.
These earbuds are slightly more expensive than some — though still half the price of AirPod Pros. But I’ve found when it comes to earbuds, even more than with headphones, quality matters a whole lot; a scratchy, poor connection from a cheap pair isn’t just annoying, it can majorly impact how much your kids can learn in an already difficult learning environment.
($99 on sale on Amazon)
6. Best headphones for students: Most comfortable (and cute!) headphones for preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary
Without a doubt, CozyPhones are our pick for the best headphones for students when comfort is a key factor, as it is for lots of wiggly little kids. In fact, my daughter wears hers around all day as a fashion accessory — I’m not sure she even knows they are functional! but functional they are.
CozyPhones are essentially a fun fleece headband that has flexible headphones built into them. For a kid who is a little extra when it comes to their personal style, CozyPhones seriously deliver. And hey, they’re sure to cheer up any boring Zoom class or online playdate with friends. The unicorns are great, but check out the other kids headphone styles like foxes, pandas, superheroes, and even Muppet characters for your youngest kids.
They are safe too: they use volume limiting technology, and they can even be washed to keep them (relatively) clean and germ-free. The only downside—they are wired only, so make sure your child’s device works with a 3.5mm stereo plug or grab a dongle.
($14.99 and up on Amazon)