Now more than ever, you are extremely likely to run into someone with AirPods in their ears, or just one. Most of the time, the encounter is in public and does not matter. Other times you are talking to a friend and they have one in, or in class a student has AirPods in and does not understand the material presented.
There is a time and place for AirPods or any Bluetooth device. The most appropriate of these times is when you’re keeping to yourself and not socializing. Many people find it rude to have someone, who is supposed to be conversing with them, listening and paying attention to other things in the background. It makes the actions they take and the things they say seem less human.
Diana Eglitis, a professor of sociology and international affairs, says, “It creates a little bit of an awkward situation when I’m speaking to them and they don’t even look at me.” This type of situation seems to be most common in school but many retail workers have similar experiences. These teachers and retail workers often feel disrespected when someone ignores them or just pretends to be listening.
I asked teachers in our school how they felt and what they thought about AirPods being used during instruction, not productive time. Mr. Stone said “It takes away from the instruction.” Mrs. Fleming felt that, “It is kind of annoying.” Ms. Trudeau told me, “The times I redirect it is when one or two are in and focus is clearly on the phone.” All of these teachers came to nearly the same conclusion that earbuds during instruction are not good.
Learning barriers are high enough for kids now, but AirPods provide even more of an obstacle. Kids often say that the music helps them focus and this could be true when working on something independently, but when being instructed it is very difficult to fully understand what is being taught.
It is nearly impossible to comprehend and retain information when you are listening to music in the background. Many people may say that they do not even hear the music and they tune it out, so why is it on then? People also put only one of the earbuds in to have the best of both worlds, but even then you are not giving your full attention.
AirPods pose more issues than just social barriers. Many believe that they can pose some health issues. From TechRepublic: “Doctors say wearing earbuds is likely the culprit of an increasing number of ear infections.” Ear infections mostly occur from overuse of the ear buds. The ear becomes an even more vulnerable area for bacteria to grow when they are sealed shut.
Oakdale Clinic explains that, “Using headphones and earbuds can absolutely cause damage to your hearing.” While normal listening levels are 60-85 dB, many people are experiencing levels close to 100 dB which can cause permanent hearing damage within 30 minutes.
There are many good uses for AirPods and devices like them. They can help people focus on their work and de-stress. But there are also drawbacks to these earbuds like health risks and social barriers. There is a time and place for earbuds and many people need to realize this. Those who fail to know this may find themselves wishing they changed their ways.