Is it Rude to Wear Headphones in Public?

Today is the world of digitalized reality, which includes streaming or downloading music on our portable devices, as well as watching and listening to videos and other forms of live or pre-recorded content. 

Most of the time, we wear headphones to listen to said content, even when we are at school, work, or out and about the public in general.

But, is it rude to wear headphones in public? Or has it become completely normal to do so? Read on below and find out with us!

Is it Rude to Wear Headphones in Public?

Generally speaking, wearing headphones in public isn’t considered rude… well, because everyone is doing it!

Since 1910, when the first recorded creation of headphones was undertaken by Nathaniel Baldwin, they have become extraordinarily commonplace. 

Think about it… do you know anyone who doesn’t have or use headphones? Even a single person?

Yeah, we don’t either! Because headphones have become as commonplace as hats were up until the recent century.

Back in the day, people didn’t leave the house without their pocketbook, hat, and watch (if they had one). Today, it is the same with smart devices and headphones or earbuds.

How Rude Is it?


On a scale of 1 to 10, wearing headphones in public rates a 3 on the rude meter.

The only reason wearing headphones when you’re in public doesn’t rate lower on the rude meter is that sometimes it is the polite thing to do to take them off. 

For example, when you are with friends, or family, out and about, you should take your headphones off and partake in the conversation (or whatever it is that’s going on around you with your friends or family).

Why is it Not Rude?

To most people today, there is very little about wearing your headphones that is seen as rude behavior, even in public.

The exception is when people are expecting you to participate in a group conversation or some other type of activity, but you don’t take your headphones off.

Common Questions

Is it rude to keep headphones on outside the house?

While it isn’t rude to keep headphones on your head while outside, there are times that you should take them off for safety purposes (for yourself, and the general public).

For example, while waiting on the bus, driving a vehicle, or mowing the yard, your headphones should come off so that you can react to any dangerous situation that may arise.

Should I take my headphones off in the store?

There is no hard and fast rule about wearing headphones in the store. However, there may be those who find it rude if they are trying to talk to you and you don’t react because you don’t hear them.

For that same reason, it is considered polite to talk your headphones off when it is about to be your turn to check out with the cashier

Is it rude to wear headphones at work?

It isn’t rude to wear headphones at work so long as the workplace environment allows for them without breaking any rules.

That said, when you see your supervisors, or co-workers for that matter, approaching you as if they are about to say something, the polite thing to do is take the headphones off.