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Anti-Teen Loitering Device: Is It Torture?

The Mosquito is an electronic "anti-teen loitering" device that emits an annoying sound akin to a mosquito buzzing in your ear that can only be heard by teenagers and people in their 20s (who still have sensitive hair cells in their inner ear).

After selling 1,000 units in the United States, the company that sells the device is now being criticized for torturing teens!

"It's horrible, loud and irritating," said Eddie Holder, 15, who sprinted from his apartment for school one morning covering one ear with his hand to block out the noise. The device was installed outside the building to drive away loiterers. "I have to hurry out of the building because it's so annoying. It's this screeching sound that you have to get away from or it will drive you crazy."

The device has roiled civil liberties groups in countries where it's in use, including England, Australia and Scotland. England's government-appointed Children's Commission proposed a ban. That group describes it as a weapon that infringes on the basic rights of young people and claims that it could have unknown long-term health effects.

The $1,500 device has also been challenged in some American cities and towns that have proposed installing it, with some criticizing the tactic as needlessly cruel.

Others, however, have praised the Mosquito:

"We'd have crowds gather in parking lots, and there'd be the usual trash talk, then you'd have fights," said Rick McGee, the school district's emergency services manager. "Now, there's no confrontation at all; they just get aggravated and leave within a few minutes."

No words on the effectiveness of the original anti-teen loitering devices, Mozart and Kenny G, as compared to the newfangled device: http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/04/23/teen.be.gone.ap/index.html - via Boing Boing


i heard about this last year, and whoever reported it had a link to the noise. everyone in my office could hear it(and were annoyed by it), including women and men in their 40's and 50's. i had heard that store-owners were thinking about using them in stores to discourage teenaged shoppers. if i ever hear one, they'll be losing my business fast.
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I love being punished for crimes I haven't committed yet. You know, if the old people can't hear anything in that register, how do they know it's still working? Just disable the thing somehow, they won't notice.
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I've always had a pretty good sense of hearing high-pitched sounds, even now, at age 37. I wonder if there's a sample of this sound online somewhere, to see if I could hear it or not.
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In case anyone is interested, here's a page with ringtones of the various Mosquito sounds, if you'd like to hear. I do think it's pretty clever to use as a ringtone, so older people apparently wouldn't be able to hear your phone ring.

http://www.freemosquitoringtones.org/
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wow this is ridiculous. It would be awesome if they made it into a ringtone though... then the professors wouldn't hear the phones ringing during class :P
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Arg, I hate these things.
They've got one of these outside my local McDonalds. I used to go there reasonably often, about once a week or so, but after they've installed this I can't even go near the place. It's very painful, especially when it's just one long sound rather than a beeping noise. It gives some of my friends bad headaches just to walk past it (there's about a twenty foot radius around it where you can hear the sound). And you can even hear it inside!
It seems that the companies are trying to drive away their customers! I understand that a very small minority of teenagers want to cause trouble, but what about the much greater majority who are paying customers? Why should we have to suffer?
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"Now, there’s no confrontation at all; they just get aggravated and leave within a few minutes."

They then gather elsewhere and beat the snot out of each other. Smart device. *rolls eyes* Solving social issues by further aggravating those with the issues isn't much of a plan, it's laziness.
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There is a new law angle in France : some people launched a lawsuit based on medical ground : not hearing a loud sound does not mean it's not going to harm you hearing.
Interesting.
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i understand the merchants frustration with idle teens hanging around not buying anything....

if you want to move teenagers away from an area, just play some jazz or big band music. those that dont move are probably too docile to be a problem
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this is just abrogation of wider social responsibilities. everyone's scared of getting stabbed now, so no-one risks confrontation, and out of sight is out of mind.
like most acoustic warfare though, you just need earplugs or even closed back headphones. or a can of builder's foam and a ladder...

i think there should be an infrasound version for the idiots who install these things.
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Add me to the list of people who just happen to have undamaged hearing. This should be considered a violation of noise ordinances.
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My emotions on this are mixed. I can see to use this in problem areas and how that will help. Yet I don't see that SOLVING the probalem. It seems more like the "sweep it under a rug" tactic.
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(@L)
Why should the young ever be painted all as criminals simply because they have no legal standing to fight back?
If you think about it its just a form of discrimination. If it was targeted by any other variable such as race, sexuality or religion it would be cried down; quite rightly. It would also be decried if it was aimed at old people. So aiming it at young people is a horrible idea and as far as I can see probably against human rights.
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If anyone is interested in testing their hearing. This NPR audio clip "apparently" includes the noise that comes from this device. I say apparently because I can't hear anything.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5459251

(it's near the beginning so just be patient)
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I can see why people would want it gone, I have the sound on my phone just for fun and whenever I use it there is usually at least one of my friends who claps their hands over their ears in pain. So I never use it anymore except when it comes up in conversation.
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This doesn't SOLVE anything. It just annoys the teens. It may make them not want to come back, but it could keep other business away that can hear it. And it just makes them congregate in other places, now disgruntled. If that's not enough to make someone angry, I don't know what is. And Justin, it's not in that clip. I can hear the sound that it makes (my friends have the ringtone and we hate it) but I heard nothing from that.
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They have one of these devices at a local grocery store. I live in a college town with very few crime issues. You cannot tell me, as someone who is absolutely tortured by this sound every time I go to buy groceries, that it is really necessary as a loitering deterrent. I would think there are other methods less irksome to customers.
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i think that part in the clip justin posted might be silent. maybe it got compressed out in the streaming process. maybe i'm an old fart.
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Helgar's right. It just pushes them somewhere else that is probably less frequently monitored.
Oh yeah, and then there's that health and rights things.
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By the way, I just tried listening to it here:
http://www.freemosquitoringtones.org/
and couldn't hear any of the 30 & younger tones.

And I'm 20.
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Let take a step back....let's say that the sound could only be heard by black people. Is it okay now? Then it shouldn't be okay to do the same thing to those under some arbitrary age requirement.
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I'm 35 and have Tinnitus (constant ringing) from listening to loud music on headphones when I was younger (and still now even).

If the Mosquito doesn't deafen these kids they'll do it themselves.

/damn kids
//get off my lawn
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Sofar beat me to it, as far as dogs are concerned. They don't do anything. They don't hang around making noise late at night. They don't use the 'F' word in every sentance. They don't leave their trash behind on the sidewalk, within steps of a trash can.

The teens do, around my condo.

We call the cops.
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do this things really work in most teenagers nowadays? I think it'll be more likely to be annoying to people in their late 30's and up since they probably have a better hearing than most 15 year olds nowadays. All this listening of super low quality mp3's in iPods with those earbuds that hurt your ears and stuff it's taking its toll in teenagers.
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I find it nice that just because minors can't legally fight back we get tons of crap dumped on us. I can't wear a T-shirt to school when the old lady in the cafeteria can walk around the halls wearing an outfit with an Obama advertisement on every piece of her clothing? (Mind you we had one of those cheesy kids voting polls for president where McCain won 308-94 so she was defined as trolling) We have to constantly be annoyed by deafening ringing because a percentage of us might commit a crime? I loathe being a teenager as is, no need to dump more dread on the pile.
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Here is another site I found where you can download the tones for free. I found it interesting, I am 24 and could still hear some of the higher tones, so test it out yourself.

http://free-mosquito-ringtones.net
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It's about time they came up with something. I hate going shopping then trying to fight my way through punk kids that have nothing better to do than just sit there, smoking and talking trash about everyone. When you loiter, your breaking the law.
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