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15 Best Headphones + Earbuds For Tweens (9-12 Year Olds)

tween boy sitting on the ground with headphones around his neck

Are you on the hunt for a new set of headphones for your pre-teen?

Do they need headphones or earbuds? Wireless or not? Tech has certainly moved a long way since we plugged in our first Walkman (or were you trendy enough for a Discman?), so it’s time to truly understand what the tech needs of your tween are in the 2020s.

In this tween guide to headphones (aimed at your pre-teen kids, roughly 9 to 12 years of age), we’ll take a look at what your tween headphones should be able to deliver, helping you decipher some of the tech talk, then compare leading brands and styles across different price ranges.

Disclosures: We are participants in the Amazon Associates Program and other affiliate programs that earn us a commission if a qualifying purchase is made.


Types of Headphones for Tweens

Unlike younger children, tweens need no convincing that they need headphones on while relaxing with their favorite electronic devices. But are they asking for the “right” thing?

There are three basic types of headphones to consider for your tween:

  • Over-Ear Headphones: With a band that connects the two ear cups and sits over the head, the cups cover the whole ear.
  • On-Ear Headphones: Similar to over-ear and attached with a headband, but the cups sit on top of the ear.
  • In-Ear Buds: Instead of cups covering the ear, small buds sit at the opening of the ear canal.

Over-ear headphones will undoubtedly deliver better quality sound and block out external noise better, whilst buds are lighter and more portable. On-ear headphones work well with kids who wear glasses and don’t like heavy objects on their head.

You may find that your tween needs both headphones and earbuds for different situations.

Features to Look For in Good Headphones for Tweens – Deciphering the Tech Talk

Buying headphones for a tween is no easy job! There will be pressure to be on trend with the latest tech, but at the end of the day, you know that these items can still get lost or damaged, and you want to get them something that will be seen as good value for money.

Let’s take a closer look at the key features to look out for when choosing your tweens headphones – or jump straight to our favorites here.

tween girl lying on her bed listening with bud headphones on her phone

Wired vs Wireless

Wired headphones or earbuds deliver excellent sound quality without interruptions due to analog signals and require nothing to be powered – plug in and listen. It does mean you need to be within close proximity to the device you’re listening to – ideal when you’re at a desk, in a car, or on the bus.

Wireless headphones, on the other hand, give the wearer greater flexibility to move around without being wired into a device, but they will need to be charged at some point, and you can lose a little in sound quality.

You can often find headphones for tweens that offer both features.

Some key features/descriptions to look out for when picking the perfect headphones for your tween:

  • Bluetooth Connectivity – Most wireless devices will use the leading technology known as Bluetooth. You will find Bluetooth devices range from the tiniest of buds to the largest of headsets that then connect to the device that’s playing their audio.

  • Battery Life – One of the downfalls of a wireless device, it does need to be charged at some point. Playtime is dictated by battery life. The larger the device, the longer it will hold a charge. Generally speaking, over-ear headphones deliver many more hours of playtime than buds. This area of tech is constantly improving, though, so when weighing up between headphone models, this could be a key factor to consider.

  • Wireless Range – How far can you be from your device playing the music audio and still get excellent sound quality? This can be essential if your tween is listening to their device while doing sports or chores and may not have their device immediately on them.

  • Tangle-Free Wire – If you are going the wired route, nothing is perfect, but for those marked as “tangle-free,” the design and materials are such that the cord is more durable and less likely to twist into itself. We all know that frustration!

Sound Quality

The important part of wearing headphones is that your tween can clearly hear what they’re listening to while blocking out noise around them.

Volume Limiting

When picking out headphones for younger kids, you’ve undoubtedly found that a volume limiter is essential to protect them from noise-induced hearing loss. Whilst a tween’s hearing is not AS sensitive as young children, you may still want to consider volume control as an essential feature in protecting their ears.

Most teen/adult headphones can have volumes up to 110 dBA, but researchers have found that people exposed over long periods to noise levels at 85 dBA or higher are at a much greater risk for hearing loss.

Noise Canceling

Noise-canceling, on the other hand, looks at blocking out unwanted external noises; the headphones are fitted with technology that provides a physical barrier between the ears and the outside world. The noise-canceling feature can prevent your tween from needing to turn the sound up too high to hear (but it can also make them unable to hear you shout out!)

Color, Style & Sizing

Sizing

Like everything else about them, your tween’s head is growing fast! It’s not quite big enough for full adult headphones but too large for toddler headphones, particularly overhead designs. Look for adjustable over-ear headphones that won’t instantly fall off your tween’s head.

When looking at buds, some come with variable plug sizes for the ears. This may provide a more comfortable fit for a tween whose ears are still not yet fully grown.

Design

Another good feature to look for in tween headphones is foldable over-ear headphones. This way, they can be compactly folded away into a case when not in use, which is ideal for fitting in their backpack.

Style

End of the day, your tween is probably equally as interested in how their headphones look as they are in the sound quality. You may want to shop by brands offering the widest variety of color choices if you are happy to compromise on other features.

They are at a tenuous age where something colored and playful is no doubt still important to them, but slowly being overtaken by the need to be ‘on trend’ – it’s up to you to temper these two needs based on your tween’s age and stage!

Additional Features of Gaming Headphones

Has your tween been begging you for gaming headphones, and you’re still unclear why they can’t just use their regular headphones?

The key difference is that they offer excellent sound quality and a built-in microphone for hands-free communication. Don’t tell my tweens I said it, but no, it’s not REALLY necessary at this age (but yes, mine have convinced me of the importance of separate gaming headphones!)

Pricing of Tween Headphones

Headphones, unfortunately, have never proven themselves as a highly durable product that will last you for years.

The price can vary vastly when looking at tween headphones and earbuds. There are a few things you’re paying for – the materials, the tech, and the brand.

The brand goes hand in hand with the materials and the tech; you expect the better-known brands to deliver the best materials and use the most advanced technology. They also have great marketing teams that convince us they’re THE product we need.

For the most part, this is true, but don’t be afraid to try lesser-known brands if the features and the price tag stack up. We’ve tried to include a mixture of different budgets and well-known brands so you can make a balanced choice.


Best Headphones for Tweens

So let’s dive into it: headphones, buds, gamer headphones, what products can you buy online that fit the key criteria you’re looking for in tween headphones?

Our Top Pick On-Ear Headphones: Puro Sound Labs BT2200s

Delivering true volume-limiting technology, Puro Sound Labs BT2200s are a hugely popular choice for tweens. They bring the comfort and style a tween needs in a more grown-up on-ear headphones while knowing their hearing is still protected, volume limited at 85dBA.

Don’t worry that this will compromise on sound; they can block up to 82% of ambient noise, meaning your tween won’t be tempted to crank the sound. A built-in mic is ideal for home learning or chatting with friends, and they come in both wired and wireless, depending on your tween’s preference.

We love it because:

  • Volume limited to 85dBA
  • Excellent 30-foot range
  • Mic included
  • You can swap out the earpads from on-ear to over-ear style if that’s your preference
  • Comes with a hard carry case
  • Offer a great range of different colors
  • 20 hours of battery life for music playback and 200 hours of standby

Best Over-Ear Headphones for Tweens: Skullcandy Crusher Wireless Over-Ear Headphone 

These over-ear wireless headphones are bound to be a popular choice on your tween’s wishlist. Reputable brand Skullcandy delivers a seamless listening experience in these trendy wireless headphones available in several fashionable shades.

Best suited to your older tween/teen (one size, but the smallest setting should fit most tween heads), Crusher EVO headphones are made for those who love their music and really want to feel the bass and provide superior battery life over many other wireless headphone products.

We love it because:

  • Bluetooth wireless with mic
  • Rapid Charge – 10 minutes can give you 4 hours of playtime
  • Fully charged (a USB-C cord is included), they will last up to 40 hours
  • You can also add the wire if they are completely flat; great for the tween who always forgets to charge!
  • Easy to control calls, play music, and adjust the volume
  • Noise isolation removes background noise for a completely undisturbed experience
  • Collapsible with a travel bag

Best Value Headphones: PowerLocus Bluetooth Wired/Wireless Foldable Headphones

When it comes to a sleek, compact set of over-ear headphones your tween can take everywhere, these wireless headphones from PowerLocus are a real winner with tweens. Making into our list of top picks for tweens due to the very reasonable price point (under $30), we love the vast range of colors in their range to suit your tween’s style.

They do not compromise too much on features with a built-in mic for communications and are compatible with phones, tablets, and PCs, delivering great sound quality suitable for a tween.

We love it because:

  • 15 hours of playtime
  • CVC 6.0 dual microphone noise reduction echo cancellation
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with a radio-frequency level of 10 meters without obstacles
  • Available as both wired and wireless for more flexibility
  • Compatible with FM radio and Micro SD/TF

Runner Up On-Ear: JLab Neon Bluetooth Folding Headphones

If you are looking for a great, affordable set of headphones for your tween that will allow them the choice between wired and wireless, then you can’t go wrong with these JLab On-Ear headphones.

With the foldable design and comfortable earpads that can rotate 80 degrees for compact storage, they’re a great value alternative to the more expensive brands.

We love it because:

  • 13 hours of playtime on Bluetooth with a range of 9 meters
  • Available in several great colors to suit your tween’s style
  • Adjustable headband with rotatable ear cups for storage
  • Offers a mic and 3C Sound technology

Runner Up Over-Ear: TUINYO Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

When color and style matter without compromising on your sound, TINYO Wireless headphones can be a great choice for a tween boy or girl. These over-ear wireless headphones are perfect for gamers and music lovers and have a mic and strong stereo sound quality.

More compact than most, they come with a great hard case to protect your tween’s headphones when not in use.

We love it because:

  • Great range of colors with a stylish, shiny finish
  • 25 hours of playback time
  • 2.5 hours of fast charging
  • Padded headband and soft foam ear cups for comfort
  • Both wireless and wired options are available
  • Slot for TF/Micro SD card for a playlist on the headphone

A Great Wired Headphone Choice: AILIHEN C8 Wired Headphones

If you’re not fussed by needing a wireless product, then the on-ear Ailihen C8 Wired Headphones are an excellent choice for a tween. An attractive headset with great noise isolation is the perfect step up from kiddy headphones for tweens who need to wear them for extended periods, such as homeschooling or distance learning.

Note whilst the headphones themselves are great value, if you want to travel with them, it’s worth spending that little extra for the hard storage case (not included).

We love it because:

  • Wide range of colors suitable for boys and girls
  • Durable 47″ braided cord
  • 3.5 mm jack for wide compatibility with all types of devices
  • Collapsible headphones with flexible hinges for better portability
  • Mic and remote control for hands-free calls, as well as gaming as music

Best In-Ear Headphones for Tweens

Next up, we’ll look at wireless and wired bud (in-ear headphones) for your tween. Wireless in this category tend to cost significantly more than simple wireless buds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

There’s not much that can top the stylish look and superior sound quality your tween will get from Samsung’s Galaxy Buds. You don’t need a Samsung device to pair these buds, just a Bluetooth connection that works with any Android or iOS device.

We love it because:

  • Superior AKG sound
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Stand-alone use of up to 6 hours of playtime
  • Delivers a further 7 hours of playback time when using the wireless case to recharge
  • Dual microphone for crystal clear voice calls

Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)

Any tween who got their hands on an Apple device is no doubt keen to pair them with the latest AirPods too. The price point can put many parents off making the investment for their tween, but they will undoubtedly deliver brilliant sound quality, and you know you’ll have no issues with compatibility.

Apple AirPods (3rd Generation) (Renewed)

In comparison to previous models, each new “generation” of AirPods delivers small technical improvements in sound quality and battery life. We wish Apple would release more color choices, but it appears that white is their thing, and they are sticking to it!

We love it because:

  • Up to 6 hours of listening time with one charge
  • Up to 30 hours total listening time with the MagSafe Charging Case
  • Lightning to USB-C connection cable included (only compatible with Apple devices)

Best Value Tween Earbuds: TOZO T10 Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Earbuds 

If you are searching out the best wireless earbuds for tweens that won’t leave you gasping at the price, why not look into Tozo T10? Available in a good selection of stylish metallic finish colors, these wireless earbuds are waterproof and sweatproof, delivering excellent sound quality.

We love it because:

  • Comes in several stylish unisex metallic finishes
  • The earbuds and the case are IP-X8 waterproof rating – great if your tween is exercising in the wet or left their bag out in the rain, it happens.
  • 1.5-hour fast-charging via USB-C cable
  • Easy Bluetooth 5.0 pairing with any device
  • Playtime over 6 hours from a single charge or get a total of 30 hours with the charging case
  • NB note you will need a wireless charger – sold separately  

Best Wired Earbuds: 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Earphones Hi-Res Headphones

Too often, you’ll find cheap wired headphones that can’t deliver on the sound quality vs their over-ear or on-ear counterparts. 1MORE has created a tween-friendly product – designed by sound engineers – that delivers excellent sound quality with noise-canceling technology and is super comfortable to wear.

Unlike most in-ear products with a “one size fits all” approach, 1MORE gives the wearer a choice of 9 different ear tips.

We love it because:

  • Oblique angled ear fittings naturally match your ear canals
  • Choice of 6 silicone and 3 foam ear tips for the most comfortable fit
  • Stylish magnetic clasping case for travel
  • Generous 4′ cord
  • Superior mems microphone eliminates cross-talk and background static
  • Beautiful presentation box, ideal for gifting

Also Consider: Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbud Headphones

If your tween is serious about their sound, but you need to compromise on size, something small and lightweight, then investing in a set of Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass earbud headphones is a great choice at a surprisingly affordable price point.

Sony MDRXB55AP Wired Extra Bass Earbud Headphones/Headset with Mic for Phone Call, Black
Sony MDR-XB50AP Extra Bass Earbud H

We love it because:

  • Integrated microphone and smart device playback control
  • Hybrid silicone earbuds in 4 sizes for a comfortable fit
  • 12mm dome-type driver units deliver powerful deep bass
  • Tangle-free Y-type flat cord with slider

Budget Earbuds: Easy KZ Yinyoo ZST

For sleek and stylish earbuds for your tween at an affordable price point, try Easy KZ. Not only do they look super-cool for your tween to wear, but the patent technology silicon tips also deliver comfortable wear for extended periods.

If it’s sound quality your tween is after, they won’t be disappointed either; these IEMs (in-ear monitors) have a sturdy reputation as being a great bass-forward model. You can choose models with and without a mic.

We love it because:

  • Comes with a stylish silver plate of gold plate cord 1.2m
  • Choice of three earbud tips
  • Superior sound technology in a sleek little unit

Best Gaming Headphones For Tweens

The next few we’ve selected are perfect for kids who attend online classes or are getting into gaming and want a built-in mic feature with their headphones.

Best Wired Tween Gaming Headphone: JBL Quantum 100 – Wired Over-Ear Gaming Headphones

These sleek, over-ear Quantum 100 headphones from JBL are an excellent choice for your tween gamer. They incorporate a detachable boom microphone with echo-canceling technology for clear communication. The memory foam cushioned headset is covered in soft PU leather for a comfortable over-ear fit.

There are more advanced JBL gaming headsets, but we love that the Quantum 100 is lightweight and more appropriately fitted to a child’s head. We recommend you stick with the Quantum 100 when buying tween or younger teen headphones for gaming.

We love it because:

  • Compatible via a 3.5mm jack with PC, Consoles, Mobile, Mac, and VR. 
  • Wired connection for superior sound quality
  • Comes in white, blue, and black

Best Wireless Tween Gaming Headphones: JLab JBuddies Play Gaming Wireless Kids HeadsetTitle

JLab JBuddies are ideal for your older kids. Built with the tween age group in mind, they will fit from approximately age 6+ and have some serious game time before they need recharging.

The boom mic can be retracted out of the way so they can be used as normal headphones, too.

We love it because:

  • 22 hours of charge time
  • Compatible with PS4, Xbox, Switch, or PC using the 3.5mm cable with zero latency
  • Retractable boom microphone with quick mute 
  • Built in volume regulators to ensure your child’s ears are protected, your child cannot listen past 85db
  • Lightweight, just 150gms

Also Consider: Razer Kraken X Ultralight Gaming Headset

A brand we hadn’t heard of until my son was gifted a pair, the Razer Kraken X Ultralight gaming set has turned out to be a real gem at a really good price point.

They are comfortable to wear and deliver everything your new tween gamer needs in a sleek, lightweight unit.

We love it because:

  • Soft, thick headband provides wearer comfort and is adjustable for their growing head
  • Bendable cardioid microphone
  • 40m drivers deliver great sound quality

Final Thoughts on Choosing Tween Headphones

As you can see, the choices are huge, and the options constantly change as tech improves.

When it comes to choosing tween tech products, as much as we like surprises, do consult! You will need to consider with your tween:

  • Will the headphones be needed for school use, too? Therefore, you will want them to have some protective casing and not so expensive it will be the end of the world if they’re lost or stolen.
  • How long will they wear them? Of course, will the headphones be comfortable for prolonged use with your carefully set tech time limits in place? Many tweens find buds uncomfortable at first after using over-ear headphones.
  • Do they fit snuggly on their head, or do you want a room to grow still, lasting them into their teen years?
  • If you’re considering wireless, when will they have access to charging points?
  • At the end of the day, the “best” products cost a lot. Do they need superior bass and other features if all they’re doing is listening to their teacher? Is it a special gift you want to last for years like a graduation gift, or just quick and practical for them to put on some tunes while they’re playing in their room without disturbing the whole household?

Good luck with that buying decision. We hope you find the ideal pair of headphones for your tween.


Tween Parent | Family Lifestyle Blog

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