Teen Buzz


What’s that annoying sound?

Click for AUDIO version.

As we get older our ability to hear higher audio frequencies diminishes. The medical term for this is called “presbycusis” and is a natural part of life. Evidently the change occurs shortly after our teenage years, somewhere between age 20 and 25.

A couple of years ago an inventor in the UK came up with a teenage “Mosquito” repellent based on this phenomenon. Basically, he devised a machine which would transmit an irritating frequency only teenagers can hear which discourages them from loitering, thereby deterring vandalism and antisocial behavior. The “Mosquito” operates at approximately 17.4 kHz at 85dB. Perhaps the best way to think of it is as a dog whistle for teenagers. I’m told sales of these devices have been very successful in Europe but have yet to reach widespread acceptance in this country.

I first became aware of this frequency through our local high school where a teacher uses it to bring order to his classroom. Believe me, it works. The kids find it extremely irritating but it gets their attention immediately. It doesn’t cause pain or hurt them, it’s just plain annoying to them.

A couple of months ago I tried an experiment on my main blog page. I embedded an audio clip with the mosquito frequency into my page. Basically, I wanted to see if anyone would notice. They didn’t (at least nobody reported it to me). As an aside, it also suggests not too many teenagers read my columns. Oh well, it’s their loss.

Teenagers have also found a clever use for the frequency in the classroom. By using it as a ring tone on their cell phones, they can send text messages to each other unbeknownst to the teacher who cannot hear it, or at the dinner table with their parents.

For those parents having trouble getting the attention of their children, this might be the best thing to get them to turn down their music, turn off the TV, or get off the computer. Simply run it on your computer, cell phone, or some other audio device.  Click to DOWNLOAD the MP3 file.

This “Mosquito” is not so much a pet peeve for me as it is to most teenagers who probably wish nobody had discovered it.

For more information on “The Mosquito”, see: Compound Security Systems

Keep the Faith!