Are Earbuds a Distraction?


Throughout the entire day, thin white cords can be seen in a death grip on a great number of phones, frequently unwrapped and placed in the ears of many to play music. A majority of students enjoy listening to music when there is a generous amount of time available; whether it’s while driving to or from school, walking to first period, during break, after classes end, or while doing homework. Among this crowd are an elite group of students who manage to cram music every free minute of the day and can be seen sporting the buds in their ears in-between classes, in classes if allowed, walking to school meeting or lunch. Nearly every time you see them, the dedicated listeners most likely have them in and are playing something already.

Last year, there was a brief announcement made by Ms. Julianne and Dr. John referencing the growing appearance of earbuds in all aspects of campus life. Concerned about the regular use of earbuds during the school day, there was a talk about wanting to get rid of them in the building during the school day. By putting earbuds within one’s ears, they automatically signal to everyone else that the listener doesn’t wish to be approached, causing isolation and disconnection from the rest of the school body and a disruption to school work. They are often snuck into school meetings and lunch, something that irks the Headmaster and Dean of Students into not sleeping at night (probably). Yet, some students believe banning earbuds and headphones during the school day would be more harmful than helpful. Even though they can be used in ways that rejects verbal communication with the community, Fiona Hansen ’19 says, “I would be really angry and very hurt [if earbuds were banned]. Even if I wasn’t wearing headphones, I usually wouldn’t socialize with people and headphones are [one] way of showing that.” Ironically, although music is regularly used as a way to avoid socializing, listening to music improves one’s verbal intelligence and strengthens social bonds. For one, students are able to share and discuss popular songs and bands and connect with friends who have similar music preferences.

Contradictory to showing signs of disrupted behavior, students insist that listening to music throughout the day actually improves their engagement in school life, boosting morale and improving mental state. As a way to cope with sanity throughout long days, Gunhwi Roh ’18 says music helps, “to keep me calm.” Similarly, wearing headphones and listening to her favorite songs admittedly, “makes me happy” says Fiona.

Looking into scientific researches done in past years, constantly listening and exposing one’s self to music over a period of time is greatly beneficial to one’s health, physically and mentally. Several studies and analyses are summarized by Jill Suttie from The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley: listening to music can boost confidence, aid in memory retention, aid in productivity, help process emotions, decrease fatigue, decrease stress, helps one’s sleep improve, and reduce depression, among many other qualities. All of these effects can be essential for a student to succeed and endure the school year.

Nearly all who play music never do it with the sole intention of achieving the benefits previously listed, everyone plays music because it’s something inherently enjoyed and known as a ‘feel-good’ activity, done subconsciously to improve health.  Although there may be valid reasons for wanting to get rid of earbuds while classes are in session from 8:30 to 3:30, the benefits that derive from listening during any free time are too valuable to waste.