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“The Mosquito” Ring Tone Phenomenon

The first application of the 17KHz tone used in “The Mosquito” (invented by Howard Stapleton) as a Ringtone is generally unknown. As such, Mr. Stapleton is generally credited with its invention even though the device he invented back in 2005 was meant to disperse teens rather then being used by teens. The device, which is named “The Mosquito”, is intended to be used as a means of dispersing loitering teens rather then a “teen only” ring tone. The ingenious idea is to use a 17KHz tone to annoy teenagers (much like how a dog whistle annoys dogs) and keep them from loitering outside of stores at night. The device broadcasts a high volume, high frequency sound that is designed toward annoying loitering teenagers. Since majority of adults can not hear these high frequency sounds, the device leaves the paying customers unaffected. “The Mosquito” was marketed as a sonic teenage repellent or “Yob Buster” which attempted to utilize the fame of already well known products meant to repel dogs. However, its eventual assimilation as a teen only ring tone outshines its original marketing by leaps and bounds.

The unique medical condition that “The Mosquito” took advantage of is unknown to most adults and kids. The natural decline of hear for human adults is especially acute in the high frequency ranges. The medical condition Presbycusis, gets progressively worse as people gets older. Presbycusis is a medical condition that Otologists(ear doctor) refer to as aging ear. Doctors have determined that hearing loss in the higher frequency ranges generally start at around age 20. The human ear begins to “age” and become incapable of detecting sound waves in the highest audible frequencies (18-22 KHz). This condition gets progressively worse as you get older. Adults over 40 will generally display some extent of this acute condition. Young adults rarely notice the symptoms since the frequency range is practically never ever used in human communication. For more information on Presbycusis, check out the following site: NIH Presbycusis Website

It is unknown who is actually responsible for the birth of “The mosquito ringtone” as a teen only ring tone. All that is known is it was named the “teen buzz” by the group of teenagers who started using it as a ring tone. The all available information points the beginning of its use as a “ringtone” in some schools in Wales. Which where “The Mosquito” device was originally marketed to. The appropriation of this idea as a “teen only” ringtone spread like wildfire on the internet. And in just a matter of months, very few teenagers connected to the internet are unaware of the existence of this “teen buzz”. The use and spread of this ring tone has since become legendary as another internet phenomenon.