Plugged in

Since their original creation in 1910 for the United States Navy, there is one invention that has continued to block out the outside world for more than a hundred years: headphones.

Headphones, or ear buds, create a bubble of solace, isolating the listeners’ eardrums to the soundtrack of their choice. The non-stop clamor of the world is instantly muted with the ease of two small ear buds.

Kayllina Smith, a third-year journalism student at Tallahassee Community College from Orlando, said even though headphones provide a distraction, they also do much more.

“Music provides a comfort zone in an unfamiliar place,” Smith said. “Headphones are kind of like a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.”

Because the popularity of music players rose, headphones also became higher in demand, and price.

According to, consumers spend from $30 to $300 a single pair of headphones daily.

Headphones have also had a 30 percent sale increase within the last three years, according to the National Product Diary, a market information and advisory service.

Although research has not proven anything concrete, many college students attest that headphones help them in many aspects of their lives.

Brandon Hutchinson, a third-year business student at Florida State University from Panama City, Fla., said headphones help ease stress.

“It gives people an avenue to escape the world through music,” Hutchinson said.

Headphones may provide a euphoric escape, but some believe that using them in public places is impolite and dangerous.

Currently, 18 states have some form of law against wearing ear buds in public, most dealing with the use of headphones while driving.

Lakeva Grigsby, a licensed nurse from Panama City, Fla., said wearing headphones while driving is thoughtless and dangerous.

“What if you have headphones in while driving and don’t hear the sirens asking you to pull over,” Grigsby said. “Those few seconds could be a life or death situation.”

A study conducted by Richard Lichenstein from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, listed 116 accidents that occurred from 2004-2011 due to pedestrians wearing ear buds. Eighty-one of them resulted in deaths.

Despite the dangers, most believe wearing headphones at an appropriate time is considered acceptable.

Smith said she wears them while waiting for class to start, and Hutchinson always has his headphones in his pocket “just in case.”

Grigsby said she’s even guilty of wearing them to avoid others.

“Most of the time, I do wear them in public so I don’t have to make unnecessary conversation,” Grigsby said. “At the dinner table, no. But while working out, why not?”