In a post on its support pages entitled, Apple Earbuds and Static Electricity (opens in new tab), Apple told users that it is possible to receive a small and quick electrical shock from your earbuds while listening to iPod or iPhone.
Apple explains that people using the headphones in drier environments may receive a small electric shock similar to the one you get when you drag your feet across the carpet and then touch a doorknob but that instead of the static charge building up on your body, it builds up on the device and instead of discharging through your finger, it discharges through the earbuds.
Apple suggests a number of solutions to reduce the the risk of electrostatic discharge from the headphones, including grounding yourself before you use your iPod and not using your device in extremely dry weather. The full list of suggestions is below.
- Try raising the moisture level in the air of the local environment by using a portable humidifier or adjusting the humidity control on your air conditioner.
- There are a number of anti-static sprays that can be sprayed into the air that can be used to reduce static.
- If you have dry skin, try anti-static hand lotion.
- Try wearing different clothes. Try clothes with natural fibers since synthetic fibers are more likely to hold a static charge.
- Try to keep your device out of the wind by using a case, or leaving it in your bag or pocket.
- Avoid removing your device from your pockets frequently as rubbing the device on certain materials can cause a static build up.
The post also points out that this problem is not specific to Apple hardware, just in case this is swaying your decision as to whether or not you should buy Apple's iPod headphones.