The Mosquito Ringtone

Mosquito Ringtone by Springwolf © 2014

Mosquito Ringtone
by Springwolf © 2014

More Than A Secret Sound For Teens

The Man and I had our son (the Prince) a little late in life. I went after the career, before I was interested in going after the family. What that means is that that Daddy person and I have to explain some things to the child about aging that most of the “Moms and Dads” of his friends at school don’t have to deal with. I’m old enough to be their Mom and in a very few cases, their Grand Mom.

We’re like all people getting older, things stop working well as we age. Right now today’s challenge is… we don’t hear as well as we did when we were younger. Ok so some of that comes from blaring the radio in the car when we were teens and twenty somethings. The point is, we’re constantly asking the Prince to repeat what he says and he’s constantly getting annoyed by it. He thinks it’s simply a matter of our paying more attention to him. It doesn’t dawn on him that we’re talking about biological science here and he needs to increase the volume of his voice. We’re getting old, come on kid, speak up.

This has become an opportunity to have a teaching moment and conduct an experiment that will help keep the Prince interested in science.

A few years ago I had heard about teens using their cell phones when they weren’t supposed to be, by turning off all sound and loading a sound file onto their phone that only they and other kids can hear,  The Mosquito Ringtone.

They use this as a ringtone, notification tone, alarm tone and so on when their phones are supposed to be turned off. Such as when they’re in school,  at night when they’re supposed to be asleep and in other places where they’re supposed to be quiet. As long as they can only hear it, they’re good to do whatever they need to, behind the back of a responsible adult. Ok, so many probably use it because it’s kewl and different, not because they’re doing something they’re not supposed to be.

Where was this stuff when I was a teenager? I’m still waiting for my flying car! Where’s our interplanetary commercial space travel!? I still want to visit Europa and spend the weekend in the local swanky Hilton Hotel there! Where’s the “toys” we were promised when we were kids? Hmm? ..ok..enough complaining.

Today when the little Prince got annoyed at me for not hearing him, I decided to see if I could find that ringtone and show him by experiment how he can hear things we adults can’t hear.

Wikipedia: The Mosquito
Mosquito was invented by Howard Stapleton in 2005, and was originally tested in Barry, South Wales, where it was successful in reducing teenagers loitering near a grocery store. The Mosquito was released to the mainstream market in 2006, through Stapleton’s company Compound Security Solutions.

The high pitched tone can only be heard by kids, and not adults. So the idea was to play this tone constantly to deter loitering by kids, yet it has no affect on what we assume are responsible adults.

Measuring Frequencies
Sound or Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz) in the International System of Units. It is defined as one cycle per second. It’s most commonly used in radio and audio applications, such as the frequency of musical tones. The unit is named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz who was the first person to conclusively prove the existence of electromagnetic waves.

Where’s the decibel? Oh man now you’re really getting into some quantum mechanics that I hadn’t planned on talking about. No really, it’s quantum mechanics. If you really have to know, go here: Decibel vs. Hertz.

In measurement a Hz can be prefixed to identify its level of speed of sound. kHz (kilohertz,  is 103 Hz), MHz (megahertz, 106 Hz), GHz (gigahertz, 109 Hz) and THz (terahertz, 1012 Hz). One hertz simply means “one cycle per second” (typically that which is being counted is a complete cycle); 100 Hz means “one hundred cycles per second”, and so on.  8 kHz would mean 8 x 103 Hz (824 Hz).

Try your own test with your family.

Frequency Age group Listen MP3
8 kHz Everyone 8kHz mp3 ringtone
10 kHz Below 60 years 10kHz mp3 ringtone
12 kHz Below 50 years 12kHz mp3 ringtone
14 kHz Below 45 years 14kHz mp3 ringtone
15 kHz Below 40 years 15kHz mp3 ringtone
16 kHz Below 24 years 17kHz mp3 ringtone
17.4 kHz Below 24 years 17.4kHz mp3 ringtone
18 kHz Below 24 years 18kHz mp3 ringtone
19 kHz Below 24 years 19kHz mp3 ringtone
20 kHz Below 24 years 20kHz mp3 ringtone
21 kHz Below 20 years 21kHz mp3 ringtone
22 kHz Below 20 years 22kHz mp3 ringtone
While humans can hear at lower frequencies, we have about 1/3 of a dog’s ability to hear higher pitched noises.
Dogs are said to have the hearing sensitivity range of 67-45,000 Hz (not kHz), whereas humans have a hearing sensitivity range of 64-23,000 Hz. You might suspect that’s pretty good. But before you go off bragging about your pooch, Cats have a range higher than Dogs. A Cat’s hearing sensitivity range is 45-64,000 Hz.
Although dogs and cats have more acute hearing than humans, they are not on the top of the list for mammals with amazing hearing.
Bats utilize echo-location to fly at night and find their evening meal. The high sensitivity of hearing puts their frequency range between 2,000-110,000 Hz – double the upper limit of a dog’s ability to hear.
Learn more at LSU “How Well Do Dogs and Other Animals Hear?

Health Effects
The German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health stated in a report on The Mosquito, entitled “Use of ultrasonic noise channels not entirely safe”:

The results of the examination are now available. The auditors were not able to certify this device as completely safe. The risk to the target group of teenagers and young adults is relatively low.They can leave the area when they hear the sound. On the other hand small children and infants are especially at risk, due to lengthy exposure to the sound, because the adults themselves do not perceive the noise. (That’s kind of a scary thought right there. How many of us may have exposed our child to dangerous anti-loitering tones and we didn’t even know it or thought our baby was simply being fussy?)

Moreover, the ultrasound affects not only hearing. Disruption of the equilibrium senses, as well as other extra-aural effects are well-known. With the sound levels that can be reached by the device, the onset of dizziness, headache, nausea and impairment is to be expected. This is not the limit of the total risks to safety and health. Wikipedia: The Mosquito

Testing Mosquito
Ok so what about this Mosquito Tone? Sure enough, there’s a Youtube Video for that. Several actually.

A Home Test:
The first one we found was perfect for what I was trying to explain to the Prince.  It’s a video of a Dad with his two children, an older son (probably in his early teens) and younger daughter (I’ll guess 3rd to 5th grade). Watch the kids and their reactions when Dad plays the tones on his cell phone.

TeenBuzz Video:
The second is from a site that was first on the scene for this social media experiment. And their site is a good place to learn more about Mosquito and how it’s being used both as a deterrent and as a sneaky tool. First their video.

And here’s their website

Parents check your kids and their phones. Or better yet; children don’t need phones until they’re a responsible young adult. Most of us got through High school without a cell phone in our pocket. Need to leave them a message? Talk to the school about calling them to leave messages for your child so the phone won’t be a distraction while they’re supposed to be learning. There really are alternatives to giving into your child’s whims.


© 1997-2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D., Springwolf's Kosmos. All Rights Reserved.
© 1997-2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D., Springwolf’s Creations. All Rights Reserved.


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