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About a year ago (I think) a company in Wales (UK) developed an annoying high-pitched sound that only kids can hear.  It supposedly sounds like a high pitched mosquito buzz..

The object behind the noise was to drive trouble making teenagers away from shopping malls - as to kids the sound was extremely annoying, however all but the youngest adults would not be able to hear a thing.

Obviously this is extremely contraversial - what about parents bringing their kids to the mall, or those teenagers that had real money to spend?  Some things are just not thought through, and in a way the kids have already exacted their revenge on this inconvenient assault on their civil rights.

You see it quickly became obvious to cell phone carrying teens, that if adults couldn't hear it then neither could their teachers.

Cell phones are obviously not allowed to be used for various reasons in UK classrooms, so the crafty kids sampled the sound as a ringtone.

But that's not all.. kids in the US have been talking to their overseas counterparts, and now the company from Wales has unintentionally provided a cross Atlantic phenomenon that's subverting classrooms here..

Originally posted to Aneirin on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 02:34 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is the sound actually (0+ / 0-)

    playing in the sample link you provided? Kids?

    •  Yes it's genuine (5+ / 0-)

      The link is to a quicktime (I think) version of the sound, you have to wait for the page to load before it will play - and as a 38 yr old adult with less than average hearing, I can't hear a thing, but my twelve year old is already telling me to get rid of it.

      The thing is although I hate children, including my own (and I declare this unashamedly), I will not lay a finger on a child, as I believe this is just plain bullying.

      However this has given me the weapon I've been looking for in my fight for control of my TV remotes and cordless phones (the source of my hatred, you see it's just so frustrating when I can't find either).. and now I play the noise everywhere in the house until at least one of each is returned to it's proper place..

      (Ok, ok I'm kidding - I don't really hate all kids, just my own).. ;-)

      •  Ah, I kind of hate them all. (0+ / 0-)


        I hear kids laughing on the QT, but I can't hear the annoying sound. And neither one of my cats has lifted an eyelid - surely they can hear it. They hear everything. But I have chipmunks in the walls, too, and neither of them can be arsed to get up and check that noise out,

        I'll try listening on better speakers later.

      •  country music (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        davybaby, Marlyn, Aneirin

        There is this McDonalds in Downtown Seattle.  They have always had loitering problems in front of the store.  So, for a long time they played country music in an attempt to send the kids away.  Maybe this would work better.  

  •  Tone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I heard this story on NPR last week, I believe.  I must have tremendous hearing because I can hear it just fine.  In fact, it isn't annoying either.

    I'm not sure how we ever survived without cell phones.

    We're all just monkeys burning in hell.

    by smokeymonkey on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 02:27:42 PM PDT

  •  Goddam kids and their newfangled doohickeys! (6+ / 0-)

    [ Anyone who thinks my bark is worse than my bite, has never seen me bite. ] -6.63 | -5.38

    by dj angst on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 02:30:27 PM PDT

  •  Heh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You mean to tell me that kids will find ways to break the rules?

    How does that not merit a "BREAKING" title?

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 02:31:50 PM PDT

  •  I'm missing something. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eru, Marlyn, Aneirin

    So what if the teacher doesn't hear the ring tone. Speaking on the cellphone or SMS text typing should still be noticeable.

    •  I'd have thought so too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but I guess if the kids were smart enough to do this, they would be smart enough to wait until the teacher's back is turned before replying to a text message (which is probably the only way they could communicate without being caught).

      "The only thing dumber than a Republican or a Democrat is when these pricks work together.." Lewis Black

      by Aneirin on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 02:42:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Schools have to do something (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If my son weren't leaving the elementary school where he is now, I'd be getting ready for a major complaint to the principal about cell phones.  

    Everyday I go, there are kids from 2nd grade up walking out of building, talking on their cell phones. Let them have them turned off if they need them for emergencies.

    •  I absolutely agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Personally I won't allow my kids to own a cell phone, although if I drop either off at the mall I have a pre-paid phone I will let them take to call me in case of an emergency or even just for a ride home.

      But at school, this goes so far beyond programmable calculators, especially some of the crackberry type phones that have full computing power to totally ruin any chance that kid has of learning anything worthwhile.

      I'm a network engineer of 20+yrs, and quite frankly I don't believe anything but a pen, paper and textbook should be on the desk of any child not taking a computer-related class.

      That means no internet, no cell phones, and definitely no calculator (until the math requires it).

      And if you look a world league tables in almost any subject, you'll find western countries that allow too many gadgets and too much computer technology in the classroom are falling way behind those from poorer eastern European countries, that simply don't have these things available.

      "The only thing dumber than a Republican or a Democrat is when these pricks work together.." Lewis Black

      by Aneirin on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 02:47:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Less time working out PC LOAD LETTER (0+ / 0-)

        ...and more time working out Algebra problems.

        I'm a computer guy and I couldn't agree more.

        RULE OF LAW. That's all the reason you need to oppose Republicans.

        by nightsweat on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 03:06:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i'm not so sure i agree (0+ / 0-)

        i well understand what the statistics and reports show but i also believe that a majority of students actually have a desire to learn. as easy as it is to cheat using the newest technology, this technology also provides new venues by which to learn and organize. i would be lying if i said that i've never used my calculator to store information  for an upcoming test but i can also honestly say that my education and my knowledge in general (if I have any at all) would be severly cut down if it had not been for the ease and comfort that technology provides. in my opinion the desire for kids to find the easy way out will never outweigh their desire to learn

        •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and good points.. my thoughts behind the calculator thing was more for simply math such as addition, subtraction, etc and maybe basic algebra.

          However you reach a point where you either have to mess about with tables and other unwieldly tools or use a scientific calculator to efficiently produce results.

          This doesn't mean you don't do the hard work (in English schools you get more points in an exam for showing your work behind the result than you do for the actual result - after all it would be a shame to lose everything because of a typo) it just means you can do your work efficiently.

          But as for subjects such as English, History, Geography etc, there are two dangers.

          First is that many of the sources of information readily findable online are inaccurate - for example Wikipedia which has both good and bad information, as almost anyone can contribute.

          The second is that if you do find decent information, like the days of simply copying from the text book, it's too easy to cut and paste perfect answers.  Unfortunately not all teachers, and not all schools have the necessary software to combat this, whereas it's pretty easy to figure out if someone has simply copied the contents of the text book you've assigned your own class..

          Having said all that, I am more than happy to believe you when you say that many kids still have a great desire to learn, but wish to do so in a more efficient manner.. and if using technology helps today's kids learning yesterday's college math in highschool, so much the better.

          "The only thing dumber than a Republican or a Democrat is when these pricks work together.." Lewis Black

          by Aneirin on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 05:17:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Audio test and measurement engineer weighs in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I find this rather difficult to believe for a number of reasons.

    It is true that children have a higher sensitivity to high frequency energy than adults. However it is unlikley that the cell phones can reproduce this energy.

    The frequency response of an MP3 file with a bit rate of 64kbps drops like a rock at 12kHz, it is possible to get a 17 kHz tone with 128 kbps but I think most analog electronics in these devices are not able to reproduce these frequencies.

    I may be wrong but I think this is pretty much nothing but hype.

    •  I'm not entirely sure, but.. (0+ / 0-)

      This was meant to be somewhat of a light hearted post, and not taken too seriously.

      All I know is my kids can hear it, and I can't.  What the mechanics of sampling the noise and playing it as a ringtone are I can't testify as I've done neither.. just played back the sample from the BBC website.

      As for the original purpose, I believe that was a bit of a flop, but someone living in the UK can probably enlighten us more on all fronts.

      "The only thing dumber than a Republican or a Democrat is when these pricks work together.." Lewis Black

      by Aneirin on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 02:59:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's damn annoying hype if it is (0+ / 0-)

      I'm 40 and I can hear it loud and clear.  It's a pulsing high pitch whine like a computer CRT used to sound without the computer on.

      I've heard people call it a buzz, so maybe I'm only hearing part of it, but it hurts to listen to for very long.

      RULE OF LAW. That's all the reason you need to oppose Republicans.

      by nightsweat on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 03:04:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Here's the NPR story (0+ / 0-)

      Teens Turn Repeller Into Adult-Proof Ringtone

      But be forewarned: I heard the sound sample clearly on my car radio and not at all on my computer speakers.  Like some others who have written, at 51 years I hear computer monitors and muted TV sets despite significant midrange hearing loss.

      They mention in the story that cellphones can't record this sound but are able to produce it.  The kids synthesized it and then passed it around by download.

      •  Flaccid eardrums (0+ / 0-)

        A friend of mine said the audiologist told him he had overly flexible eardrums that were interfering with his pitch discernment.  Flaccid eardrums, it seems.  They didn't have anything like "Viaura" or other ear-pill to offer.

        I think the usual problem with advancing age is increasingly sclerotic eardrums combined with some nerve damage.

  •  Can't hear it at all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    va dare

    Must of been that Pink Floyd concert.

  •  Here is a spectrum analysis of the MP3 file (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simpletonian, Aneirin

    As you can see the energy is 15 kHz, most people can hear this.

    •  Yep. In fact- (0+ / 0-)

      as an audio engineer, I not only recognized where it was in the spectrum immediately, but easily enhanced and removed it with a quick flip of a fader on a graphic EQ.

      Also, I heard it very clearly and while it was mildly irritating, I don't think it's exactly something that would be enough to make me leave somewhere that I really wanted to be.

      Now ultra-low frequency tones is another matter. Rumor has it there is a certain ultra-low frequency which people can't hear, but which causes the bowels to automatically loosen. I've always wanted to get ahold of something which would generate and broadcast that tone and piggyback it on Fox News' carrier signal...

      The Skeletor Show as seen on BoingBoing and Wired!

      by Arken on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 05:49:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cool (0+ / 0-)

    actually not cool, this probably means my hearing is totally shot.. downer. :-)

    "The only thing dumber than a Republican or a Democrat is when these pricks work together.." Lewis Black

    by Aneirin on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 05:31:39 PM PDT

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