Using Headphones Can Lead To Loneliness, New Study Warns

by : Emily Brown on : 09 Aug 2021 17:47
Using Headphones Can Lead To Loneliness, New Study WarnsPixabay

An audio firm is urging people to take a break from using headphones after a study revealed wearing them frequently can lead to loneliness. 

Though headphones can provide entertainment in the form of the latest podcast or your favourite album, the study by audio firm Jabra found headphone wearers can go for an average of five weeks without talking to someone new.


The research found 15% of all respondents said they wear headphones every day for non-work purposes, though the figure rose to 30% among 16- to 24-year-olds. Almost half of the participants (47%) use the devices while on walks, while 29% use them on public transport, with users wearing headphones for an average of 58 minutes per day.

Man wearing headphones (Pixabay)Pixabay

As many as 38% of participants said they keep headphones on to actively avoid talking to others, with Professor Noreena Hertz, author of The Lonely Century, claiming the findings show that ‘we are in the midst of a crisis of disconnection that the pandemic has significantly amplified’, Independent.ie reports.

Hertz continued:


But even before the pandemic struck, this was the lonely century – ensconced in our digital privacy bubbles, headphones on, heads in our phones, all too often we actively distanced ourselves from those around us.

With loneliness damaging not only our mental but also our physical health – loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day – it’s essential that we commit to reconnect in person.

People chatting (Pixabay)Pixabay

Steve Evans, Jabra managing director of consumer solutions in Europe, explained that the firm is encouraging people to try and go one day without using headphones to connect more with people around them.

He said:


For many of us, wearing headphones is part of everyday life, whether for work calls or entertainment such as listening to music when we’re on the move.

But from time to time, it’s good to have a break and channel our focus on the real outside world. One of the things the last 18 months has taught us is that social interaction and the company of friends means everything.

So, we are asking everyone to join us in going truly headphone-free for one day, to take time to connect with friends and enjoy the sights and sounds around them. Your headphones will be right where you left them when you choose to come back.

Woman wearing headphones (Pixabay)Pixabay

Professor Hertz noted that rather than using headphones to avoid interaction, users could benefit from even the smallest of exchanges with others, explaining: ‘This isn’t an onerous ask. Researchers have found that even just a 30-second exchange with a stranger can make us feel significantly less lonely and significantly more connected to those around us.’

Concerns of loneliness and a lack of social interaction sparked by the study have been heightened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, when people were actively discouraged from interacting with strangers.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Headphones, Loneliness, Mental Health, Now, Pandemic


  1. Independent.ie

    Headphone use leads to loneliness in many, study warns