[twitter]We just completed our annual epic road trip from Vancouver to Calgary. At the end of each summer, we visit our family on the coast and that means a nearly 1000km, 10 1/2 hour drive. After trying to bite the whole thing off in one trip the first summer, we’ve learned our lesson and now break it up into two 5+ hr chunks.
Still, it’s a long time for a kid to be in a car. We tame the wild beasts in the back seat with iPads. They have them fully stocked with their favourite shows and apps and they get full run of the tablets for the entire trip. As much as I rail against screens in vehicles, having iPads for each kid is genius. They can get their own entertainment, they flip between games and shows, and they can put on headphones to keep the noise from bothering all of us.
This is where it gets dicey, you don’t want your kids wearing the same sort of earbuds you and I pop in. They’re in the back seat, and I can’t control the volume, so you need to make sure they have headphones that are designed for their smaller ears, and sensitive to the volumes that growing ears can be exposed to.
While Charlie has a cute set of kid’s over ear headphones, Zacharie has been using my big ear muffs lately. That’s not right. So on this road trip we tried out ETY-Kids from Etymotic Research. (Charlie is not yet 4, so not old enough for inner earbuds)
I was first introduced to Etymotic about a decade ago when I received sculpted inner ear headphones from a friend. These are the sorts of monitors that musicians and performers wear. They’re gorgeous. The sound so clear, the fit so tight, I couldn’t wear them when running because it cut out all ambient noise.
It was that experience that led me to trust Etymotic would know how to make quality headphones for kids. We know that kids shouldn’t listen to things at loud volumes, but if you just pop in stock earbuds or hand them your pair, you can’t monitor what’s happening once they have the device. They control the volume and they can be blasting it without your knowing.
The main reason people turn the volume up is to block out background noise. Traveling in a car, there is a lot of background noise. ETY-Kids headphones use noise-isolation and seal the ears with their flanges. They block out more of the background noise so the volume doesn’t need to be turned up as loud.
I popped Zacharie’s ETY-Kids in my ear, then swapped in my headphones. Wow. The difference was astounding. I had no problem leaving him in the back seat with the headphones on for nearly 11 hours as we were stuck behind 3 accidents on this particular commute. They were comfortable to him, and they were comforting to me.