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Do Schools Allow Disposable Headphones to be Shared Anymore?

Headphones are small, portable, electronic devices that one uses with technological electronics such as personal computers, smartphones – or any phones in general – tablets, mp3 players, etc. In the recent world, they have become so hugely popular that now you even get them as free accessories with the purchase of smart devices (phones, tablets, and whatnot). It is slowly becoming the fact that disposable headphones are becoming an integral part of all the facilities that a school provides to a student. So, it might not be surprising that sometimes the school runs short of its supply and on occasion, the students might have to share the devices.

At first glance, it might not seem that big of a deal, but once it starts happening too frequently, one might notice that sharing headphones is, in fact, gross and unhygienic.

Use of Earphones and Headphones
Firstly, and most importantly, if the devices used are unhealthy ones that you put directly into your ears – alternatively called earphones or earbuds – they might sometimes trap the earwax inside your ear if your ears are unclean during usage. Suppose someone needs to borrow them and you hand it over. They might use them but at the danger of putting their health at risk – for earwax, according to research, contains harmful bacteria besides being sticky and disgusting. What makes this bacteria build-up even worse is that the earbuds cover up the exit point for the wax, meaning it traps in moisture and heat to make that bacteria thrive.

Unsanitary Reasons for Headphones
Furthermore, it’s not just your use that might make them unsanitary. Leaving them on random surfaces like tables, shelves, school bags, etc. might also cause them to catch germs that are less than helpful to one’s ears. The consequences could be severe – fungus, ear infections, spots, and blackheads could all pop up due to sharing headphones. So, one must make sure to regularly clean them, not just to lend them but for personal use as well.
Kelly Reynolds, a professor of environmental health at the University of Arizona, says, “When you disinfect, make sure to clean any waxy residue off first, and then wipe down the earbuds with a cotton ball dampened with disinfecting spray or rubbing alcohol.”

Possible Solution
Another solution could be the earbuds could be substituted with headphones that go over the head and don’t require direct contact with the inside of the ear. That is much safer as the contact with germs is not on nearly as large a scale. Not only do they provide better sound quality, they are more comfortable too.

Ultimately we come to this conclusion: sometimes it might be unavoidable for schools to make students share headphones. However, that does not mean that it must be done on a regular basis. Stocks of them should be checked regularly, and the staff should make sure everyone has a new and personal one for use. If someone does not have them, then they should try to bring their own, personal devices until they receive new ones.