Canadian teens are betting on teachers' and parents' aging ears to allow them to send and receive text messages and phone calls by using high-frequency tones that are inaudible to most people over thirty. Called 'mosquito' tones, these were originally marketed in South Wales to deter teenagers from loitering around stores.
The high-pitched buzzing grows uncomfortable to young people after ten minutes or so. Most people over thirty aren't aware of it at all. We all have old people disease, you see. Even those of us that don't feel particularly old.
Presbycusis - general gradual age-related hearing loss.
As you age, your ability to hear higher pitched sounds deteriorates. Soon tones you could hear well at twenty are but a memory. (Hmm...could this be why the music from the 80's doesn't sound as good as I remember it being? Naaaahhh.....) The older you get - going through your thirties, forties, etc - the less of the high tones you can distinguish.
Demonstration of mosquito tones here - how high can you hear?
The company that originally marketed the anti-loitering machine, Compound Security Systems, was taken aback when teenagers began using the irritating tones as cell phone ringtones, but soon figured out that since parents and teachers couldn't hear the ringing phones, students were using them to text in class. The company has since come out with their own ringtone.
I had my young daughter in a waiting room the other day. The chairs were packed and she was playing on the floor with coloring paper and crayons. A young girl was sitting a few chairs down, and Rosey kept staring at her. Every once in awhile she would get up and approach her, only to frown and go sit back down. The girl finally flipped out a cell phone and answered it, saying something to her mother about how many calls she was missing. I had assumed that R was hearing the buzzing of the cellphone set on vibrate, but as we left she was complaining about a strange sound....
I really try not to sound like a grumpy old broken-eared person, but remember back when there weren't cell-phones and invisible tones and teenager repellent?
Eh, maybe this is just the presbycusis talking. It's inaudible to younger people, you know. Only us old timers can hear it.
photo by samantha celera
This is an original Canada Moms Blog post. Jessica blogs elsewhere too.