Why Is Gen Z Choosing Old School Headphones Over Earbuds?

Corded headphones have made a comeback, there’s no doubt about it. And this look isn’t simply because the majority of young adults can more easily afford corded ones over wireless ones. As the trendsetters of this modern age, Gen Z wouldn’t be so basic.

By Anna Hugoboom3 min read
Pexels/Andras Stefuca

Sure, old school corded headphones are cheaper than wireless Airpods, but there are several reasons, including some beyond the bucks, why Gen Z has not only brought them back but made them cool.

dancing headphones

They’re More Environmentally Friendly

Gen Z is very eco-protective, and sustainability is one of the most important features of a product or trend. Corded headphones are viewed as a more practical and environmentally conscious choice over AirPods because they last longer. If the corded option is the majority’s pick, then this reduces the number of earbuds bought and used (and thrown away).

Gen Z may have been confused about whether paper straws really help the environment (they can actually be more toxic than plastic straws), but they’re not wrong in this case. Wireless earbuds do have a much shorter life span than corded ones due to battery die-out and electronic deterioration. Obviously, quality has a say in how long anything lasts, but a solid pair of corded headphones could last years if taken care of properly. Old school headphones can also deliver a better listening experience and capture better sound recording.

For additional practicality, corded headphones are easier to keep track of! Maybe they can sometimes get in a tangle, but you don’t have to worry about one earbud popping out and getting lost down a storm drain, or dropping onto the floor and getting dirty, or getting lost.

They’re in Style

The phrase “I saw this on TikTok” has about as much clout as the sacred line of “mom/dad said!” we used as little kids. The app has even trumped Google as today’s search engine. With that being said, corded headphones got a red-carpet resurrection when it seemed everyone on TikTok sported them as the more practical, easier, less expensive, better-sound-quality option over wireless earbuds, and made them the fashionably trendy option in the process.

As Business Insider put it, Gen Zers want to be hip and cool, not look like a lawsuit advisor or finance bro. They want the retro aesthetic, the je n’ai c’est quoi vibe that the corded headphones facilitate, along with the nostalgia of mixing old with newer fashion details. 

Corded headphones don’t scream “adolescent” or “poor” anymore – now they’re in as the celebrities’ and it girls’ choice of headset, like nepo baby Lily-Rose Depp, who first made the trend go viral. Now, they’re an accessory in TikTok reels and the prime option for those who care about fashion and the planet. Who knew?

And, while we’re at it, why not go with the less expensive option that has better sound quality? If you’re an Apple fan all the way, you can find corded EarPods here with the lightning connector or these with a 3.5mm headphone plug. If you prefer Androids and Samsung, check out these here

Headphones Reduce Radiation Exposure Risks

Gen Z especially is growing in awareness of the potential health risks of electric technology and EMFs. EMF stands for electromagnetic fields, referring to the general electronic radiation power that is a staple in our modern technology. One specific type of EMF is radio frequency (RF). Our Bluetooth earbuds are not simply little pieces of plastic. They are carriers for this extremely strong, radioactive energy – carriers that are placed right next to your brain. Although it’s somewhat taboo to talk about, there are some unavoidable concerns about RF radiation and its effects on the body, including an increased risk of cancer and infertility.

Smartphones also emit RF radiation, in addition to having the Bluetooth feature built into the device. Studies show that RF radiation negatively affects sperm count and motility, and that men who keep their phones in their pants pocket have a significantly lower sperm count. Additionally, women who carry their cell phones close to their breast area and store their phones in their bras are greatly increasing their risk of contracting breast cancer.

Medical studies will claim that the wireless electromagnetic energy emitted by tech devices is not strong enough to pose any “great health risks,” but there have been plenty of cases where medical studies were biased because of profiting companies providing the research funding. But there is an undeniably strong correlation between the rise in cancer and brain tumors and the use of cellular phones and Bluetooth, especially now with the cell reception’s newer 5G radiation. Even the WHO was finally forced to recognize RF radiation as “possibly carcinogenic.” 

It’s Better To Be Safe Than Sorry

Bluetooth emits this RF radiation. By using Bluetooth wireless earbuds, we're literally placing a source of radiation right next to our brain. If we know RF radiation causes cancer and that wireless devices like Bluetooth earbuds emit RF radiation, then why would we use them? And while it’s important not to grow paranoid about all the electronic energy we’re exposed to today, there are some simple, mindful habits we can adopt. 

brad pitt exercise
  • Swap your Bluetooth earbuds for corded headphones, obviously! And don’t get the beanie snow hats with built-in Bluetooth.

  • Use the speakerphone feature or headphones during phone calls. Do not hold your phone to your ear.

  • Don’t carry your cell phone in your pockets, the inner purse pocket closest to your body, your bra, or your waistband. Some athleisure clothes have built-in phone pockets for “convenience,” but frankly, it’s very unwise to carry your phone so close to your reproductive organs (no need to fry your fertility and increase your risk of cancer).

  • Keep the Bluetooth on your smartphone, laptop, or iPad turned off unless you’re actively using it (and yes, I just remembered to turn mine off after typing that). Keeping the Bluetooth off helps save your battery anyway!

Closing Thoughts

Ditching cordless for corded helps us be healthier, responsible, and, as it turns out, more stylish.

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